By Anton X, CCPRD Peer Outreach Worker
As a person living with HIV for the past five years, I know the exact stressors that may cause intense bodily aches like soreness of the neck and aches in our lower back. Mental soreness can indeed manifest in a physical sense. One does not outweigh the other as they are inherently in the same vein of truth: tension comes from a lack of honoring and prioritizing our needs for self-care, self-love, and self-actualization. In my journey as a person HIV is living with, I found that the consistent practice of Kemetic Yoga fosters relief to a lot of the tension I have. The stress of being diagnosed in my early 20’s, of daily medication adherence, and of societal stigma, seemed unbearable at some points. With overarching mental, physical, and emotional stress, I had to turn to a practice that grounded me in many ways. The practice of Yoga has honored me with the ability to cultivate an affirming positive self-image and rich self-esteem.
Kemetic yoga is an Egyptian system of yoga that involves a combination of physical movements, deep breathing techniques, and meditation. This practice has helped me nurture a heightened sense of self-awareness and self-development. In my journey towards finding the right practice for my lifestyle, I found that the Kemetic style of Yoga was the most affirming practice regarding my goals towards honoring my Ancestors through daily practice. Yoga is oftentimes deemed as a practice for the wealthy “upper class” but my practice is different from colonized yoga because it takes into account historical ties of African people around the world and honors my Ancestors with past traditions. As an African American man living in a colonized society, this is very important to me and my consistent growth. Yoga has helped me to center and ground myself in my body, goals, and daily affirmations. The practice has also helped me to release the mental and emotional, and physical tensions. Once these tensions were released, I had the mental space to remember adherence steps that were vital to me becoming happy, healthy, and virally undetectable.
“Undetectable" means that a test cannot detect the virus in the blood of a person living with HIV, although extremely small amounts of HIV are still present. Someone who takes HIV treatment and is "undetectable" for 6 or more continuous months does not transmit the virus through sex, breast milk, semen, vaginal fluids, or blood. Undetectable also means the virus is being well controlled by HIV medications. Since my diagnosis, I have been a huge advocate for spreading awareness of U = U, short for “Undetectable = Untransmittable. This campaign is important to me as an advocate for holistic health that nurtures the mind, body, and spirit.
Yoga is a life changer that has helped me on my life journey living with HIV. I am so excited to continue sharing this in order to advocate for a healthy lifestyle, most especially for those who are living with and/or at high risk of HIV. I am Anton X, a creator, an advocate, a peer outreach worker, an African American male, a Yogi, and I am Undetectable. The journey has been filled with lots of learning lessons and there is plenty of room for further growth and expansion, but I’m hopeful because as long as I have my mat I can release the day's tension.
Ahmed, Salma (18 October 2019). "Kemetic yoga breathes new life into Egyptian tourism". Arab News. Retrieved 12 February 2020.
Undetectable = Untransmittable (U=U) for You! (2020). PleasePrEPMe. https://www.pleaseprepme.org/undetectable
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