Archive for positivism

Star!

Posted in HIV, pozzie life, yoga with tags , , , , , , , , on January 9, 2011 by iamhivpositive

On the first day back from the holidays, my yoga class was expectedly full with new people and their steely resolve to get on the fitness track. As we stretched out our creaky bones, saturated with Christmas fat, and sweated out the hangovers, I once again thought about what it was about yoga that has made me keep coming back to it throughout the years. I was always a nerd, unathletic and gawky, and in high school I would skip PE classes by managing to always have my period. The competitiveness of team sports didn’t appeal to me, and running like a hamster in the gym was boring and tedious. Discovering yoga was somewhat of a breakthrough in my physical routine, mainly because it wasn’t all about the physical. There was a mind-body connection that appealed to my intellectual and spiritual side while also creating a stronger, more toned body. After the last minutes of savasana I would always feel centered and peaceful, free of toxins both physical and emotional. So I wasn’t surprised when I came across yoga for people living with HIV. As a practice with proven physiological and psychological benefits for almost any type of body, it makes perfect sense.

Yoga For Life, a community-based yoga series created by Charmaine Cu-Unjieng, a Yale-educated HIV specialist, and Paulo Leonido, a fitness expert and personal trainer, came together when the two met during yoga teacher training under Roland dela Cruz of Bliss Yoga. Call it dharma. “We were together six days a week for two months. We’re both passionate about HIV. We even have the same birthday,” Charmaine says. “I always wanted to merge the work I had been doing with yoga, and meeting Paolo catalyzed it.”

With her contacts at Echo Yoga, a group that offers alternative classes to niche groups like overweight and older people, and his contacts at Philippine General Hospital and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, Charmaine and Paulo developed an Iyengar-based yoga program designed for the needs of people living with HIV and AIDS. Worldwide, yoga is being recognized as an important complementary therapy for immunosuppressed patients. “I have friends living with HIV. I had always wondered, what happens next?” Paulo says. “So we came up with Yoga for Life, which is a non-strenuous, holistic approach to wellness.”

The first couple of months of classes were not so easy, as newcomers had many fears to overcome and needed to grow more comfortable about opening up and talking about HIV. “We didn’t know at first whether to focus on people with HIV, or make it an advocacy against stigma and discrimination, open to everyone. We were also concerned about confidentiality,” says Charmaine. But it has become a safe space: there is no requirement to disclose one’s status, and the classes are indeed open to people with HIV and those who support people with HIV. Ninety percent of the students are gay men, and half of them are estimated to be HIV positive.

In Ayurvedic philosophy, specific poses like inversions are beneficial to the immune system, while backbends stimulate thymus activity and forward bends detoxify the liver. B.K.S. Iyengar, the founder of Iyengar Yoga, outlined a sequence of poses that encourage proper blood circulation and activate glands that are known to regulate the production of T-cells, the body’s army against infections. For people living with HIV, yoga alleviates stress and depression. For those on ARV drugs, yoga helps detoxify their system. After an hour and 15 minutes of asana practice, the students are guided through meditation and breathing techniques, and it is in these moments that yoga becomes its most medicinal. “Our approach is to bring back the inner peace, self love, self empowerment and happiness. You don’t have to be reminded about your sickness,” Charmaine explains.

Feedback and results from students have been encouraging. One student, with a dangerously low CD4 count of 7 (HIV-negative people normally would have 700-1,000 T-cells) was getting sick with opportunistic infections. The doctor advised him to stop exercising. Charmaine and Paulo put him in relaxing poses. He stopped getting fever every day, and started gaining weight and getting stronger. His new CD4 count is unknown, but one can surmise that his stabilized health reflects a higher number of T-cells. Paulo shares that other students are starting to practice on their own, even employing breathing techniques inside taxis when they need to calm down.

With Paulo as a great motivator for the students, keeping in touch with inspirational texts, Yoga for Life has become more than just a place for a judgment-free work out. “Yoga for Life has proven itself to be a real community,” blogged one practitioner who had been living with HIV for three years. “Being with the Yoga for Life community turned out to be the best way to celebrate World AIDS Day. Yes, I dare to use the word ‘celebrate.’ Because gone are the days of World AIDS Day being a commemoration of the lives that had been lost to AIDS. Rather, we should be celebrating. Celebrating life going on in spite of the virus.”

For the new year, Paulo and Charmaine are hoping to scale up their program, introduce fun safer-sex campaigns to spread the message of positive prevention, and find more yoga teachers. As they run it on a volunteer basis and only ask for a suggested donation of P200 per class, the sustainability of Yoga for Life still looms as an issue. But with the energy they give out in service to others, the universe is sure to respond in manifold.

* * *

Yoga for Life is held on Wednesdays, 7 p.m. at 28th Floor Conference Room, Medical Plaza Ortigas Building, San Miguel Avenue, Ortigas, Pasig City, and on Saturdays, 2 p.m. at Echo Yoga Community Center, 9th Floor Penthouse, Century Plaza Building, Perea Street, Legazpi Village, Makati.

Source: http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=645944&publicationSubCategoryId=451
Article by: BENT ANTENNA By Audrey N. Carpio (The Philippine Star) Updated January 07, 2011

Vacation

Posted in Coron, Personal, pozzie life with tags , , on December 28, 2010 by iamhivpositive

I told you before that since I found out about my status, I told myself that I have to travel and see other places besides the polluted Manila. So, I decided to go to the beautiful Island of Palawan, in Coron to be specific…and here are some of the pictures that I took… =)

Pride and Secrets

Posted in friends, HIV, Personal, pozzie life with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 22, 2010 by iamhivpositive

It’s time. I told myself…

My friend, Madam, and I were walking along T. Morato when I suddenly felt the urge of telling him about my status. It was just so timely, it was gay pride and the theme is World Aids Day. I took a deep breath and tried to open my mouth but the words did not come out. I was… scared?

Madam is going to the States hopefully by next year and he told me that he is quite nervous about the medical examination that he is going to have. I asked him why and he said that the medical examination is ok, but he is dreading the HIV test! I asked why again and asked him if there are any possible risks that he might turn out positive. He said yes.

In the event, they was a van were rapid HIV testing is being conducted and I asked him if he would like to have it right there. He said no, he said he’s scared. I told him, it’s going to be alright and that I am going to be there with him, I even lied that I had mine just 2 weeks ago and there is totally nothing to be scared about. For the 3rd time, he said he was scared… I asked him why is he scared and he told me that he doesn’t know how he will react if ever that it turns out positive… Seeing the expression in his face stopped me from pushing in taking the test.

Our other friend, Hotelier, sent us a message informing that he is already in our meeting place. Yep, we decided to meet up and go out after I joined my first ever Gay Pride as part of the Yoga For Life contingent. He joined us in a bit and we decided to head to Starbucks. After ordering we took the table near the entrance so we could also see what’s going on outside. Madam started talking about an ex boyfriend who is trying to win him back after his long disappearance until we ended up talking about HIV again.

I don’t know what’s gotten into me but I suddenly blurted it out to both of them. They thought I was kidding then when they saw that I was serious, they became quiet and looked at me. The two of them have different reaction, Madam was a slightly emotional whilst hotelier was just very cool about it – I think. I explained to them everything, told them the story from the very beginning. How it all started. They were just listening… and I appreciated that. I even felt like crying. Madam tried to inject some humor in our very serious conversation to lighten it up a bit. I also smiled.

Our conversation ended with them asking me to go to a videoke and just belt it all out… which I did. I am happy that I have two more friends who accepted me wholeheartedly without judging me. I am happy that they support me and treats me the same. I am happy because I was able to talk about it again. I was happy that I am slowly becoming more open about it to the people around me. I am happy that night…

YOGA FOR LIFE W A D 2010 activities

Posted in pozzie life, yoga with tags , , , , , , , , on November 23, 2010 by iamhivpositive

Yoga for Life invites everyone to celebrate World AIDS Day (WAD) on December 1 (Wednesday) by lighting 108 candles to symbolize the faith, hope and love of the HIV community and to support this year’s “Light for Rights” WAD theme. We will conduct a special kirtan session, one of the oldest sacred music traditions in the world, to express our common gratitude and promote our continued effort to achieve stillness of mind and spir…it.

Please bring 1 pocket notebook and a pen. A vegetarian dinner will follow to also celebrate Yoga for Life’s 6-monthsary and the upcoming wedding of Charmaine Cu-Unjieng (co-founder).

December 1, Wednesday, 7:00-9:00pm
Conference Rm., 28th Floor, Medical Plaza Bldg.
25 San Miguel Ave., Ortigas Center

We would also like to share our love and support to the bigger community affected by HIV and AIDS through the following activities:

Yoga for Life Goes to RITM – Celebrating Life through Yoga and Meditation
December 3, Friday, 3:00-4:30pm
Executive Lounge, RITM
( yoga mats will be provided )

Yoga for Life Joins the LGBT Pride March

December 4, Saturday, 2:00pm
Tomas Morato, Quezon City

See you there, Namaste

Paulo Leonido +63917 388-9658
Charmaine Cu- Unjieng +63917 540-4247

Stars and Spark!

Posted in etc, Personal, pozzie life, thoughts with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 11, 2010 by iamhivpositive

It was dark and cold… the cool air from the mountains makes me chill… as I look into the other side, I saw tiny lights from the city… they are so small that they can pass as stars from where I am standing… I took a deep breathe as I am overwhelmed with the view, it was just so… romantic? perfect? … or it was a moment of appreciation… appreciate that I am still alive and was given a chance to see this view… call me drama queen and all… but that’s what I really feel…

Earlier…

Slowly, I started to hear noises from the outside… I’m awake. Today is a very special day I told myself, I should make it a good day no matter what. Smiling, I opened my eyes. It was still early to prepare for work so I just decided to stay in the bed. I cuddled with the pillows under my blanket and just embraced the excitement of what’s going to happen that day.

When I finally realized that nothing special is going to happen that day since I didn’t plan anything, I was able to calm myself. I just smiled and started to prepare for work.

At work was nothing special either, though towards the end of my shift, my boss asked our team to head to a fast food chain and eat. Whilst eating, he explained that the reason for the treat was because it’s my special day. I was touched and everyone greeted me. I honestly wanted to cry but they started cracking jokes that stopped my tears from falling…

As the night falls, I waited for a friend who asked me if he could take me out for dinner. He picked me up from the office and as I sat myself on the passenger seat, he handed me a box. He asked me to open it. It was a box full of chocolate. I smiled. I like chocolates! I mean, who doesn’t right? I was touched by his sweetness… we just met 2 weeks ago and I’m surprised by his knowledge about my favourites.

He told me that we are gonna go to a place which can make me happy, I was intrigued. What is it this time? But I was excited, obviously, I think he did a research about me. After parking, he lead me to a sort of like a bazaar but as we come nearer, I hear dogs barking. And as we entered the bazaar my heart melt as I see little puppies… I LOOOVEEE dogs! And he knows it too! He toured me in the bazaar showing me all the cute puppies like he is a tour guide. After which he asked me if I would like to have dinner already and I said yes.

We crossed the street and entered the restaurant just in front of the bazaar. I remember telling him that I like filipino foods maybe the reason why we are eating in one that day. The food was very delicious and again, I was… impressed and touched by all of what he did. When we finished eating… we headed back to the car park and decided to go home.

On our way home, I suddenly felt alarmed and worried… the road that he is taking is not leading south… it’s somewhere else… I started feeling scared… after all of what he did, I don’t know what he is capable of doing… call me paranoid and judgemental or what, but that time, it didn’t really feel right…

he drived fast and it was already late… I don’t know where were going and whenever I ask him, he just tells me to wait…

Travel!

Posted in etc, Personal, pozzie life, thoughts, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 26, 2010 by iamhivpositive

If there is one thing that I would really love to do but can’t, besides going back to school, it will have to be traveling. Believe it or not, I haven’t been anywhere outside Metro Manila ever since I was in High School? Except of course when we have team buildings in Pansol, Laguna or in Puerto Galera, but whenever we have that, it’s still more of work and less of relaxation. I would want to just travel and just relax… or just have some personal time to think and reflect…

A friend from Canada who just arrived here in the Philippines went to the office and told me that she is planning to go to Boracay. She saw an ad in the internet and is recruiting some more people to join her so that they can avail of the very affordable promo rate. I got excited, I’ve never been to Boracay myself and would want to go there for a holiday! I told her I’m in and she asked me to recruit 2 more since we need to be 4 in the group to avail the package. I did not waste my time and immediately asked some friends and even on Facebook. In just a matter of 2 hours, we’re complete!

Next day, there was a message in my facebook inbox from my friend that she found a better offer, same rate but instead of going to the crowded and busy Boracay, it’s going to be the jaw dropping and relaxing Coron, Palawan. (sorry bout the adjectives, lol) The reason why I said yes to her when she offered this trip to me was because of the destination. I really wanted to go to Boracay… after all, I heard a lot of stories meeting their soul mates in that lovely place. After a little bit of convincing and showing me of the breath taking pictures in Coron, I agreed. It’s a deal and we are leaving by the end of the year…

I’m happy that somehow I already made a start with my plan of traveling. Coron, is a good 1st destination and I just have to make sure that I’ll bring a camera, sun block and enjoy! Hopefully next year I could do this again… no, I will definitely do this again! Who knows I might even go outside of the country since I have been out of the country yet… =)

I think it would really be nice to see other places… beautiful places, meet people, experience other culture and also rediscover myself… so that before I finally close my eyes, I will be filled with beautiful picturesque images of the places I’ve gone to and memories… I won’t let what’s in me to stop me from traveling and experiencing everything that is out there… I’m ready to pack my bags and start moving….

23

Posted in etc, Personal, pozzie life, thoughts with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 8, 2010 by iamhivpositive

The countdown started… 27 days to go before my birthday. Yep, I’m turning 23 in a few weeks time and I’m HIV positive.

This year has been very eventful… I dated a lot of guys, had lots of sex, met a lot of wonderful guys, fell in love, was in a relationship thinking, finding out I have genital warts, being admitted in the hospital alone, went under the knife 2x to have the warts removed, found out I have HIV, learned yoga, learned to love myself more now and so on and so on…

A lot of people will be disappointed if ever they knew that in the age of 22, I’m already a pozzie. Some people might even stay away from me and judge me because of it. But right now, I don’t care. Not that I’m proud of it, but I know myself… and I fully accept the new me. And I know the real story… I’m turning 1 year older and I’m stronger, more optimistic and has a lot of love to give… and with that, I believe that is more that just being a young adult living with HIV… it makes me… me…

My trainees asks me, what do I want to happen in my next year… I answered with strong and healthy body, happiness, peace and serenity… corny no? Maybe if they asked me last year I would say, I want to have a laptop, the latest gadget, a car, a fat savings account, lots of boys, a hot boyfriend… not that I don’t want it anymore, let’s just say my priorities changed… I changed…

This year has taught me a lot of lessons in life… and I learned it in a very hard way… I stumbled this year, stumbled really bad, but as cliche as it may sound, it doesn’t matter how hard you hit the ground, it’s how you stand up and try to walk again that would define you as a man…

Again, a few weeks from now, im turning 23… and I have HIV…