Yes, I'm gay. I probably was since the day I was born. On my 21st birthday, I sort of had my debut. I came out to my parents. A little drama from mom, and some indifference from dad. An above-average coming out. Almost perfect.

Nine years later, two weeks before my 30th birthday, I found out... I'M HIV POSITIVE.

And so my story begins... I'm BACK IN THE CLOSET.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Burn

TheBurnMy body’s been aching a bit these past few days. Hot. Burning hot. Why?

A room full of people. People grunting. People moving. I found myself surrounded by lots of hot sweaty bodies, with just a thin rubber mat separating me from the cold marble floor. I was in motion, with a single voice telling me what position to take, to tighten up, to relax, to breathe hard. From being on my back with my legs reaching for the sky, to being on all-fours with my ass up in the air, until I was lying motionless on the floor, breathing heavily, heart pounding, sweat dripping from every pore.

Whoa, wait a minute. Before you go jumping to conclusions... I was just talking about... gasp... YOGA.

So it was in May that talks began on having yoga sessions for HIV-positives. Paulo Leonido, a certified yoga instructor and advocate, came up with the idea. With the help of some other Positivism friends, we fleshed it out. Another certified yoga instructor and advocate, Charmaine Cu-Unjieng, joined the team.

One problem we foresaw was that people wouldn’t want to attend something in which they’d automatically get labeled as HIV-positive. So to address that concern, instead of it being exclusively for HIV-positives, we decided to open it up to anyone who was interested. HIV-positives. Advocates. Our medical allies. Affected family. Friends.

So two weeks ago, the very first Yoga for Life was held. I invited some of the pozzie posse for the pilot session, and packed a change of clothes for myself that day. Of course, Murphy’s law took control. I got stuck in a one-to-sawa meeting at work, and despite cabbing to Ortigas, I was not surprisingly late. I snuck in, but was too ashamed of my tardiness that I decided against joining the session.

I just sat at the back with my favorite doctor friend who was playing GRO-slash-host for the event. While we were quietly chatting (like that’s possible, right?), trying not to disrupt the concentration in the room, I watched intently as the participants went through the motions. There were about 14 or so people there, most of whom I didn’t know. What I did know, though, was that not everyone there was HIV-positive. Cool.

BFF was there. I’mNotDyingI’mLiving was there. Some others who I knew. Others I didn’t. And I didn’t even have to know them. Nor their HIV-statuses. It was a don’t-ask-don’t-tell environment. It was a non-issue.

Seeing everyone in action, those who were doing well weren’t necessarily the ones who didn’t have the pozzie-secret. Interesting. And as for me, just sitting there watching all the contortion that was happening, I was left sweating. And panting. It was daunting. I was scared. I was suddenly relieved that I didn’t join.

Honestly, I’m a yoga virgin. Even if I do believe I am pretty fit, I haven’t really been active lately. Nothing more than the walking between transport hubs and work and home. Gym? Nope... too scared... and insecure. Back in school, I used to play soccer, volleyball, tennis and table tennis. I used to bowl and jog, too. I even used to dance, so I think I can be pretty flexible. But lately, ugh. Yoga was the farthest from my mind before this. Oh, maybe sexercise counts?

So after that first session, being one of those who kept inviting people to join Yoga for Life, I was sort of pressured to participate. I gotta walk my talk, right? So last week’s session, I vowed to be there. And not only be there, I vowed to yoga-ize myself.

And so I did. Despite raising my hand when our yogi Charmaine asked who were yoga virgins, I tried my best to keep up. In the middle of the first part, I found myself sweating profusely, worse than I’d seen anyone do in the pilot session. I was worried. I took time to look around, and was relieved to see others were sweating as well.

Poses. Stances. Holds. Stretches. Points. Flexes.

From something as simple as inhaling and exhaling, to something as difficult as being on your back trying to swing your legs over your head into a shoulder stand. Very Kamasutra. Honestly, that was the hardest part. During the pilot, I saw them try to do it, and I said to myself, “No fucking way.” But last week, I wouldn’t let the session pass without trying it. I get challenged too, ya know! So I got as far as trying. I didn’t quite get there, but I got to the next best option, having my legs up in the air. Whew. I’m a proud boi!

By the end of the session, the meditation part, I couldn’t help but appreciate the time we were given to just lie on the mat and rest every part of our bodies and even our minds. It was a good way to end the hour-long yoga session.

I was warned by BFF that my body would ache into the next day. The following morning, I proudly reported to him that I was a-okay. I, of course, spoke too soon. By that evening I could feel the burn. I was reminded I had muscles I’d forgotten I had. Abs. Shoulders. Triceps. Quads. It was a burn. But it was a good burn. I missed having this burn.

So there. I lost my virginity yet again... my yoga virginity. I’ve pretty much recovered from last week, but not in time to join the weekend yoga session. But as of this writing, I’m already on my 2-hour fast and looking forward to having my second yoga session in a couple of hours. Is it really good for me? Feels like it. Well, I’m now officially physically active. And I’m happy... as always!

And am I ready to ache again? Bring it on! I yearn for the burn! ROAR! Yoga for Life, here I come!

Yoga for Life sessions are held every Wednesday evenings in Ortigas, and Saturday afternoons in Makati. If you’re interested to join us, you may contact our yogi bear and babe, Paulo at, and Charmaine at for more details.


Anonymous said...

hello, yogi...


Anonymous said...

idol, yoga has been one of the things that i wanted to try, and it woould have been perfect to have it with men like you guys, (sigh) i would love to sweat with you idol, to see your body shine and your muscle stretch and flex. anyways congrats to your new found wellness ride. remember madonna is still at her best because one of her exercise regimen is yoga. muah! iloveyou as always. God bless us all!

Tart_Tanilya said...

YOGA is one of my favorite exercise when I was in college. We do a lot of that since we need more stretching and air. I missed doing that again since I stopped joining the company Yoga every Wed. =( Nice blog though...

PinoyPoz said...

@Moi: Yogi Bear?!

@Erik: Hope you could yoga with us some time! Miss yah!

@Tart: Thanks! You should try going back to yoga then! :-) It's never too late!

daned said...

kuya!!!!! ganda naman nyan.. bagay b s mtabang tulad ko yan? hehehe di mo ako ini invite ahhh? hahaha hmmm si mr eric,prang familiar.. i think i have read about him in your previous entries hehehe.. sya b un taga mindanao kuya? hahahaha