Nira Colyn, MD, Co-Founder

Nira’s childhood in South Africa and subsequent transformative life experiences motivated her to commit her life to helping people. Starting as early as age 9, she became a support to her 6-year-old brother and devastated young mother, when her father died suddenly of a heart attack. Five years later South Africa’s discriminative Apartheid policies came into full view when she witnessed a bombing at a shopping mall in Amamzimtoti  where four people were killed and 140 wounded and she experienced the indiscriminate destruction of violence. The bombing convinced her family to leave the country. As a white immigrant from South Africa to the United States in the 1980’s, she faced accusations of racism, which forced her to grapple with issue of prejudice and other forms of injustice. This instilled in Nira the desire to view others in a deeply honest way and to make a difference, which led her to the field of medicine. As a primary care physician, she soon came to realize many chronic diseases arise from maladaptive coping mechanisms to stress and unaddressed past trauma. She became frustrated with a system that did not provide the tools to truly heal her patients. Then Nira discovered Yoga, and while working to heal herself, she came to realize that in order to truly heal one needs to focus not only on the body but also on the mind and spirit. Nira’s experience with trauma and the ability to heal herself has given her the empathy and knowledge to help others do the same. She is honored to bring this work to her community through Circle Up Center for Practical Peacebuilding.