two men with HIV do yoga in a light and plant filled room

Work Out Your Feelings

Working out is one of the things that bring me joy. As a kid I disliked it quite a bit. I was that person in gym class that never liked to change into the exercise uniform. I absolutely was a brat and wanted to read books instead of play. I wasn’t ready at the time to see the value in ‘play’. Stretching, running, climbing, socializing are all the things that make us active, along with our ability to think critically.

Exercise improved my attitude and academic performance

Eventually, I broke out of that phase and I started to get into the track team in high school. I was a bit overweight and wanted to do something different. Now, I will not have people thinking I was a track star. I did compete in a few meets and I have a pair of cleats at my parent’s house to prove it. I started to exercise for myself and, I have to say, it really improved my attitude and my academic performance.

Sports provided an outlet to share and bond with others

Sometimes I think about why that is. When I was not very active, I spent lots of time by myself and with books and television. Spending hours at a time reading or looking at a television screen gave me plenty of time to imagine and be with my own thoughts. What it did not provide was an outlet to share.

Sports allowed me to test and challenge my physical body in ways that I would never experience by just watching someone else do it. I was surrounded by people my age who wanted to do the same thing I did. We all wanted to be better at track. We formed relationships and bonds and competitions that help us navigate life even today.

Exercise and meditation practice with yoga

Recently, I have been combining my exercise and meditation practice into one. I have been doing Hot Yoga on and off since college. The practice of yoga has opened up an outlet for me to exercise my body and mind at the same time. In this particular practice, I spend 90 minutes in a room that is 105 degrees Fahrenheit hot and go through 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises.

Talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise routine

These conditions are safe for most people, but I would still consult a doctor before beginning any exercise routine. Through the guided practice, I am faced with my mind and my body. Often times, the goal is not to do the moves but to align my mind with the task that the instructor asks of me.

Mental health and social benefits of yoga

This practice of submitting my mind to my body’s capability continues to teach me lessons every time I take a class. If you are living with HIV or any chronic illness, I would recommend trying this class. The exercise of going to a class, meeting new people and sitting in the room for an hour and a half has a benefit. An HIV diagnosis can feel like an isolating thing and it doesn’t have to be.

Exercise to release negative feelings

HIV can also have one feeling down because of the medications we take. These negative feelings exist wherever we are regardless of our conditions. It has been my key to recognize these feelings and actively work them out or exercise them out by doing things that bring me joy. Exercise has turned from that terrible gym class into a central part of my daily life.

I encourage you to find the routine that brings you joy. Something that brings value to your life and can take pride in it. Once you find it, no one can take that away from you.

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