Along with providing a range of traditional HIV-related services for its African-American clients in the Dallas area, nonprofit Abounding Prosperity also offers yoga classes.
“[I] let my hair down, and feel the tension relieve,” participant Aileene Williams tells the Dallas Morning News in a profile on the yoga sessions. “It was like a whole load lifted up off of me.”
Yoga classes allow participants to release tension, anger, resentment and stress in a safe and welcoming space, Abounding Prosperity CEO Tamara Stephney tells the newspaper. She adds that most of the nonprofit’s clients are underinsured and living below the poverty level and might not otherwise have access to the health benefits of yoga classes and other similar offerings at the organization.
“Things like acupuncture, massage therapy, yoga classes, mindfulness…can redefine a person who’s living with HIV from living in a sick role, to living in one in which they do have self efficacy,” explained Steven Klemow, MD, medical director of the Kind Clinic in Dallas. “They are in charge of their own bodies and their own treatment plans.”
As a result, he said, people who do yoga and similar alternative therapies can learn to release stigma and shame and to feel more comfortable in their bodies (though it goes without saying that none of this is a substitute for taking meds to treat HIV).
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In related news, Abounding Prosperity recently made headlines because its founder and original CEO Kirk Myers-Hill died suddenly in April; he was found dead in his office. For more about that and the organization, see “R.I.P. Kirk Myers-Hill, a Black Gay HIV Advocate in Dallas.”
For more about yoga, see “Strike a Pose,” which offers tips and several gentle poses for beginners, and the Ask POZ column, “Yoga Looks Like a Waste of Time. What Am I Missing?”