A Practical Guide to Complementary Therapies

 

Yoga and Tai Chi

Yoga

Yoga is union with the self or divine truth. Although many people think of it primarily as an exercise program, the stated purpose of yoga is liberation: to help an individual achieve longevity, rejuvenation and self-realization. It may also be used to heal and prevent illness.

There is more to yoga than stretches and postures, but these components are usually the first ones that people learn. Yoga contains eight components, which can be incorporated as a person progresses. These eight stages combine mental, emotional and physical aspects. They are yama (abstentions), niyana (observances), asana (postures), pranayama (life force control or breathwork), pratyahara (sense withdrawal), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation) and samadhi (contemplation and state of perfect equilibrium).

Yoga is used to establish a sense of relaxation and awareness. It may also increase oxygen consumption and reduce stress. Doing yoga on a regular basis builds muscle strength and flexibility. It is used to manage insomnia too.

Yoga is also said to massage the body internally, stimulating the circulatory and endocrine systems and strengthening the lungs and digestive organs. People with HIV who practise yoga have experienced benefits such as improved stamina and reduced fatigue as well as a general feeling of well-being, sometimes referred to as connectedness.

There are many different schools of yoga and many different approaches and techniques. Look for instructors who are registered with a specific school and are experienced at working with people with HIV.

Tai Chi

Tai Chi is related to the Chinese martial arts tradition. It combines physical movement and meditation. The movements emphasize being aware of your own Chi, or Qi, and the Chi of others. Tai Chi’s slow, rhythmic movements have made it a popular form of exercise in Canada, but the mental and physical discipline that it teaches also helps those who practise it to deal with stress. Tai Chi is related to the spiritual teaching of Taoism. There are a number of different forms of Tai Chi, and several are practised in Canada.