This post, by Louise Vallace (, originally appeared on The Well Project.

Yoga played a transformative role in helping me come to terms with my HIV diagnosis and regain control of my life. Before embracing yoga, I was a very heavy drinker. In fact I was a functioning alcoholic. I worked hard and played hard. Heavy drinking (and smoking) was a misguided way to cope with the emotional weight of HIV. However, the practice of yoga introduced me to a profound sense of discipline and focus that proved to be a game-changer.

While many people perceive yoga primarily as a physical exercise, it is a holistic system that encompasses a range of aspects, each contributing to overall well-being. Beyond the physical postures (asanas), yoga delves into meditation and breath control (pranayama). This multifaceted approach allowed me to confront my inner struggles and find acceptance within myself.

Yoga taught me to appreciate the interconnectedness of mind, body, and spirit. This newfound perspective enabled me to manage my HIV with greater resilience and composure. The discipline cultivated on the yoga mat began to permeate all aspects of my life. It offered me a different coping mechanism—one grounded in self-care and mindfulness.

The yoga lifestyle emphasises the importance of overall well-being. As I embraced this holistic approach, I discovered that it wasn’t just about practicing physical poses; it was about cultivating a harmonious and balanced life. The practice of yoga, with its emphasis on self-awareness and mental clarity, played a pivotal role in helping me adhere to my HIV medication regimen consistently.

Through yoga, I found inner peace and strength that allowed me to confront the challenges associated with living with HIV. It helped me shift my perspective from seeing my condition as a burden to viewing it as an aspect of my life, one that could be managed with grace and dignity. Yoga’s comprehensive approach allowed me not only to accept my diagnosis but also to thrive on my journey toward improved health and well-being. It gave me the tools to transcend my past struggles and embrace a brighter, more empowered future.

The Well Project is a non-profit organization whose mission is to change the course of the HIV/AIDS pandemic through a unique and comprehensive focus on women and girls across the gender spectrum. Visit their website,, to access fact sheets (English and Spanish), blogs, and advocacy tools, and to join a global community of women living with HIV.