Yoga has gained well-deserved recognition as a holistic practice that can help improve mental and physical well-being.
But did you know that it can also be an effective tool in managing the stress of living with HIV and AIDS?
In this article, we will explore how practicing yoga can have a positive impact on one’s well-being, both physically and mentally, if one is living with HIV or AIDS.
What is HIV/AIDS?
While HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.
In fact, HIV is a virus that is transmitted through bodily fluids, like blood, semen, and vaginal fluids.
It can be passed from one person to another during unprotected sexual intercourse, sharing needles, blood transfusions, and childbirth if the mother is infected. This virus attacks the body’s immune system (the body’s natural defense against infection).
This makes it easier for you to get infections and even cancer.
The difference between HIV and AIDS is that HIV is the general name of the virus that badly affects the immune system, while having AIDS means that an organism is actually struggling to deal with the damage to the immune system.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), AIDS has infected over 7.5 million people worldwide.
If left untreated, HIV can progress to AIDS, which occurs when the HIV infection weakens a person’s immune system to the point that they become sick with infections that do not respond to treatment.
Sadly, there is currently no cure for the disease. That’s why turning to yoga might be a good alternative to managing your disease.
What is yoga?
Yoga is a practice that encourages connecting the mind and body through specific poses, breathing exercises, and meditation.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, this practice has many health benefits and can help improve your overall quality of life if practiced regularly.
Well, yoga can help reduce stress and anxiety by enabling you to take a moment to breathe deeply and focus on one thing at a time. It can also help improve your flexibility, strength, and balance.
Let me explain how this method works on your mental and physical well-being.
During yoga, you will find yourself moving into a variety of poses or postures. Depending on your comfort level, these can include sitting, standing, or even lying down.
While you may think of yoga as something that is done in the presence of others, you can also practice yoga on your own at home.
And believe it or not, practicing yoga can also help you reduce stress and deal with the symptoms of AIDS effectively.
How can yoga help people living with HIV and AIDS?
Have you ever wondered how yoga can benefit people living with HIV and AIDS?
Well, yoga is a practice focused on connecting your mind and body via specific poses, breathing exercises, and meditation.
A study published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice suggests that yoga can be used as a non-pharmacological treatment for managing the stress levels of people living with HIV and AIDS.
What does it mean?
It means that while HIV and AIDS significantly deplete the energy and vitality of a person, yoga is a medicinal practice that can help boost energy levels and keep one’s stress levels in check.
Keep in mind that there are various yoga poses, breathing exercises, and meditation techniques that can help reduce the stress levels of people living with chronic illnesses like HIV/AIDS.
But regardless of the exact strategies, the result is mostly the same: it can be a great way to improve your physical strength and flexibility.
Yoga also helps improve your mental health by enabling you to take in a moment of complete focus on breathing and meditation.
And guess what?
It can reduce stress by allowing you to take a moment to think about something that is important to you.
In this case, think about the people you love or the things that matter to you because, often, when we are stressed, we tend to be too busy worrying about our problems instead of taking care of them.
As such, practicing yoga can help us deal with our stress by helping us learn how to relax and calm ourselves down.
But how do people living with HIV and AIDS manage to practice yoga despite the fact that they are suffering from a potentially fatal disease?
Well, you might be surprised to learn that people living with AIDS or HIV can actually practice yoga and still be healthy.
It’s true. Many people who live with HIV and AIDS find that a regular practice of yoga can help them manage their symptoms, keep stress levels down, and even reduce physical pain.
Let’s discuss the possible benefits of practicing yoga for people with HIV/AIDS.
Benefits of practicing yoga for people with HIV/AIDS
If you’re struggling with AIDS and want to take better care of yourself, then you might want to consider trying out yoga.
The reason is that practicing yoga has numerous benefits for people living with HIV/AIDS.
While many people who live with HIV/AIDS are in constant pain because of the disease, yoga can help reduce the pain of this condition.
Whether you’re trying to improve your stamina or your flexibility, yoga can help you achieve your goals.
Yoga can also help you manage the symptoms of HIV/AIDS, like fatigue and muscle pain.
And if you’re not in pain and suffering from other symptoms of the disease, then practicing yoga is a great way to boost your energy levels.
How does it work?
Well, yoga can help improve one’s well-being by reducing stress, boosting the immune system, and giving you more energy.
The benefits of yoga are effective in boosting the immune system and increasing one’s energy level.
Yoga has also been proven to significantly reduce stress, which is a common challenge for people living with HIV/AIDS.
Now let’s discuss the benefits of practicing yoga for people with HIV/AIDS on physical and mental health separately.
Physical benefits of yoga for HIV/AIDS
When it comes to physical benefits, yoga can help you maintain your overall wellness by balancing your daily routine.
It goes without saying that one of the main reasons why people choose yoga is that it significantly improves physical strength and flexibility.
This means that you can easily perform yoga poses that are physically demanding.
And this is especially challenging for people who have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.
Here are a few ways yoga can help you stay fit and healthy.
1) Increased flexibility and strength
Yoga is a type of exercise that can help increase flexibility and build strength in your muscles.
The fact of the matter is that when done properly and consistently, yoga can improve your posture and help you carry out your day-to-day activities more easily.
And this is especially important if you’re trying to overcome the symptoms of HIV/AIDS.
This method can easily improve your stamina and endurance, and as a result, you can easily perform a variety of activities.
2) Improved sleeping patterns
Many people living with HIV and AIDS experience sleeping disorders.
Yoga can help regulate your sleeping patterns and thus improve your sleep quality. It can also help you sleep better.
So, if you have difficulties sleeping because of your HIV/AIDS diagnosis, you can easily improve your quality of sleep by practicing yoga.
3) It can help manage pain and reduce muscle tension
Oftentimes, when we are stressed, we tend to hold on to tension in our muscles.
Yoga can help reduce muscle tension and thus alleviate the pain.
And this, in turn, can make you feel better as a whole. This means that if you get used to practicing yoga, you will feel a boost of energy and vitality.
And you know what?
It can also help you to build muscles, tone your body, and stay fit. Keep in mind that exercise is very important for HIV-positive people.
4) Reduced blood pressure
Yoga can also help lower your blood pressure and heart rate.
This is especially challenging for people with HIV/AIDS because they are often diagnosed with high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.
Yoga can help improve your overall health and thus reduce the chances of developing cardiovascular diseases.
According to a study, resting systolic and diastolic blood pressures improved in the yoga group compared to the non-yoga group. Furthermore, the study indicates that practicing yoga did not negatively impact immune and viral status, making it safe.
5) Yoga helps you strengthen your immune system
Yoga can also help improve your immune system, which is another challenge that people living with HIV/AIDS have to deal with.
And this is especially true when it comes to fighting off infections such as colds or flu. The practice of yoga has been proven to help boost your immune system and thus, prevent you from getting sick.
How does it work?
Well, yoga is a form of exercise that involves physical movement combined with breathing techniques, meditation, and poses that focus on stretching and strengthening the body.
And as experts believe, regular yoga practice will help boost immunity by increasing blood flow throughout the body.
As such, people living with HIV or AIDS can benefit from a regular yoga practice because it will help them increase their overall health and well-being while also helping them maintain good health during their illness.
For example: someone with HIV who practices Hatha Yoga daily can expect to have better overall health than someone who doesn’t practice Hatha Yoga at all.
This means more energy and vitality, which makes it easier for someone to live.
Mental health benefits for HIV/AIDS
As you can see, practicing yoga can have plenty of advantages for your physical health. But you should know that it’s not everything, and it can also improve your mental health.
The truth is that practicing yoga can help you relax and unwind. And that is especially true for people living with HIV/AIDS, who often experience stress and anxiety, such as depression or anxiety.
People living with HIV/AIDS should be aware of the fact that they are not alone. In fact, they can also benefit from talking to others who have been through the same experience, which may help them cope with their illness in a better way and thus lead to a more positive outlook on life.
Mental health issues are very common among people living with HIV/AIDS because stress is a common symptom of this disease.
However, practicing yoga regularly can help you reduce stress and anxiety as well as improve your overall mental health. Keep in mind that it’s all about balance!
Let’s now take a look at the 4 mental health benefits of yoga for AIDs.
1) It can reduce stress and anxiety
You probably won’t be surprised to learn that a regular yoga practice can help you reduce your stress levels and even manage your anxiety.
It’s because yoga is a practice that focuses on breathing and meditation, as well as helping you focus on the present moment.
In fact, many people living with HIV/AIDS find that they can take their minds off of their problems by practicing yoga.
Less stress and anxiety.
The reason is that yoga has been shown to reduce levels of cortisol (the hormone that’s responsible for anxiety and stress).
And that’s exactly how practicing yoga can help you reduce anxiety because of dealing with AIDS.
2) It can improve your mood
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), people living with HIV/AIDS are more likely to develop depression than the general population.
But you know what?
Yoga can help manage the symptoms of depression, including low energy, a negative outlook on life, and feelings of isolation.
Let’s see how it can improve your mood.
A yoga practice can also improve your mood because it will help you get in touch with the present moment.
And that is especially true for people living with HIV/AIDS, who often experience a lot of stress in their lives, which can lead to them feeling down, depressed, or anxious.
Practicing yoga regularly can help you face life’s challenges in a more positive way, which will make you feel better about yourself and thus lead to a more positive outlook on life.
So, if you’re struggling with mood problems while having to deal with AIDS, you should think about giving yoga a try.
3) It can improve your energy levels
And another key benefit of yoga for your mental health while having AIDS is that it can increase your energy levels.
Because yoga is a practice that will help you clear your mind and relax, it’s no wonder it can help you increase the amount of oxygen in your blood, giving you more energy (and helping your body recover from fatigue).
What’s more, yoga can improve your circulation and immune system function. And that, in turn, is going to lead to an increase in energy levels.
So, if you’re finding it difficult to get out of bed in the morning or are having trouble getting motivated for things like work or school, practicing yoga could be the answer for you.
4) It can improve your self-esteem
One reason why people with HIV/AIDS are more likely to develop depression is that they might feel low in self-esteem.
And you know what?
Yoga can help improve your self-esteem, which is a very important factor in dealing with depression.
The simple truth is that low self-esteem is the most common symptom of depression. Yoga can help improve your self-esteem and boost your confidence.
Well, yoga can help you build up your confidence and self-worth. And as we’ve seen above, feeling confident can make you feel better about yourself, which will lead to a more positive outlook on life.
If you’re feeling low in self-esteem, practicing yoga could be a great solution for you.
And it’s not just the fact that it will help improve your self-esteem, but also that it will help relieve stress and anxiety.
What are the best yoga positions?
1) Child’s pose (Balasana)
This is a perfect pose if you’re feeling low in self-esteem or if you feel stressed out. It’s also very calming and relaxing.
Here’s how you should do it:
Beginning in the sitting position, the yogi sits on the heels with the knees hip-width apart and places his palms on his thighs. The yogi then lowers his torso toward his thighs while stretching his arms overhead and placing his forehead and palms on the floor.
So it can be an excellent choice if you’re finding it difficult to get motivated during the day or when going through a hard time in your life.
Just lie on your back on the floor with your legs up on either side of your body, arms at your sides, and palms facing upwards.
Relax completely and breathe deeply while focusing on your breathing as well as being aware of how you feel emotionally (i.e., calm).
2) Seated forward bend (Uttanasana)
The purpose of the standing forward bend is to stretch the back of the body.
In addition to being an inversion, this position has the heart positioned above the head when the body is in this position.
In order to do this, you need to place your feet together on the ground. The legs are straight, and the body hinges forward from the hips.
This pose is also very calming and relaxing. It’s a great pose if you’re feeling low in self-esteem or stressed out.
3) Cat-cow pose (Bitilasana)
This one is a must-do if you’re feeling low in self-esteem or if you feel stressed out.
The cat pose is basically a combination of the cat and the cow pose. As a result, you’re stretching your lower spine and core muscles and opening up the chest and lungs at the same time.
The reason why it helps AIDS is that it can ease your breathing and reduce tension.
4) Corpse pose (Shavasana)
Believe it or not, there is a pose in yoga that is called the corpse pose.
This pose is one of the most important inversions in yoga. It’s meant to be a very deep relaxation pose.
It’s also known as “the resting pose.” This posture is often used as a way to help reduce stress and anxiety and improve your concentration during meditation.
And afterward, you can even fall asleep as a result of deep relaxation.
So you can do it in your bedroom or just lie down on the floor with your legs up, arms at your sides, palms facing upwards, and relax completely while breathing deeply.
Are there any risks to practicing yoga with HIV?
In most cases, there is no risk of practicing yoga with HIV. As experts prove, yoga practice is a completely safe way to manage our mental and physical health when we have AIDs.
In addition to that, most yoga poses are safe. The only exception would be if you have a serious injury and need to take it easy.
Still, if you have any questions about yoga, it’s always better to consult with a doctor. It’s especially true if you have any underline injuries.
Studies about the link between yoga and HIV patients
Interest in the connection between yoga and HIV patients has doubled in the last decade. The reason is that scientists are looking for ways to help people who struggle with this disease reduce the symptoms and function properly.
A 2019 study about the benefits of yoga for people living with HIV/AIDS proves the significant link between yoga practice and HIV. It’s a systematic review and meta-analysis that demonstrates yoga as a promising intervention for HIV-positive individuals to manage stress and deal with anxiety.
In another study published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, yoga reduced blood pressure in HIV-1 infected subjects. As a result, doctors often consider it a useful way to reduce anxiety and depression in HIV-infected patients.
What’s more, integrating yoga can also have positive effects on the psychological states of HIV-infected patients. In this study, published in the International Journal of Yoga, participants demonstrated a significant reduction in depression scores.
Final thoughts: yoga can help you live with HIV
As we move forward while dealing with HIV/AIDS globally, it is more important than ever to consider all available options for coping with this disease—especially those that are affordable and accessible.
Thus, learning about how yoga can benefit someone living with HIV or AIDS may be an excellent first step toward taking control of your life again.
Yoga is a great tool for managing stress and improving heart health.
But the benefits of yoga go beyond that. It can also change how you perceive and approach the world around you.
By engaging with yoga, you will get a chance to slow down and be mindful of your own breath and body.
And most importantly, yoga can help you live with your HIV instead of having to deal with it.