Merel studied Medicine at the Maastricht University in the Netherlands. Internationally mown for its Problem Based Learning approach, she got to see many patients from her first year onwards. Motivated by a wish to help people around living happy and healthy lives she started her studies. Soon she realised that western medicine, its view on health and well being, treatments and regular health care settings did not fit her view on how to help an individual reach health and well being.
During her studies she broadened her scope and engaged in many extra-curricular activities such as voluntary work in a primary health care center in Guatemala and working in a hospital in Ecuador. In the Netherlands she was actively raising awareness about the detrimental health status and lack of access to health care for undocumented immigrants (‘illegal immigrants’). At the same time she has always been interested in teaching and education. In her third year of her studies she conducted a scientifical research project about effective teaching of physical examination skills. Simultaneously she organised an extra-curricular course about Tropical Medicine for medical students.
In the mean time she started her personal yoga practice. Without knowing anything about the underlying philosophy and roots of the asana practice she experienced benefits from the beginning. Early on it had a lot of beneficial effect on her posture, confidence, energy level and generally experienced more ‘joy in life’. After five years of studying Medicine and a long period of tossing and turning she eventually decided to make a dramatic change in her studies and career. She got her Masters degree in International Public Health and worked in the international health care sector.
In her job as Health Care Advisor for the ‘Royal Tropical Institute’, based in Amsterdam, she did research and advised Ministeries of Health in developing countries, like Ghana and Sierra Leone. Due to her background she was well able to communicate and understand medical professionals, as well as patients and policy makers. Integrating all their feedback and expertise and formulating policies was her main responsibility.
Due to her background Merel is very capable of changing her ‘language’ to whomever is sitting in front of her and acknowledging their challenges and needs. Fully convinced of the profound ability of yoga to transform any individual she is actively working towards bridging health care and yoga and ‘unmasking’ both worlds for one another.