Coping With Chronic Illness: Art + Yoga = Hope

Managing chronic illness is complex and stressful. On the one hand, there are the emotions: grief, fear, anxiety, anger, perhaps depression. On the other hand, there are the doctor visits, the consistent tests and procedures, and the sometimes false hope that the next medication or treatment will work better. All this, on top of the physical symptoms—as well as the side effects from the medication that are used to treat them.  How does one move beyond coping, and into resilience (aka Increased Flow) as this tough road is traveled? Is that even possible? There is a way; it’s a very simple practice and it offers hope. It’s a combined practice of expressive art making and yoga. 

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Let’s Redefine Hope

Hope is often defined as an optimistic attitude of mind; one that is based on the expectation of positive outcomes. For our purposes, hope does not mean cure. It does not even have to mean optimism. Here, hope relates to control.

Hope diminishes when we feel a loss of control, especially over our bodies. Hope diminishes when we face our mortality, or are forced to let go of a lifestyle and the identity that goes with it. A combined practice of expressive art making and yoga provides hope by restoring a sense of control. You will see that you have the personal choice to do something beneficial for your health that does not involve doctors or medicine.  You also allow yourself the time and space for emotional expression, as well as the opportunity to redefine yourself and/or your relationship with the disease.

Get Hope Through Art + Yoga

My art + yoga method is based on principles of art therapy and classical yoga—both of which are demonstrated to improve the empowerment and sense of well-being among individuals living with chronic illness. The practice also offers many restorative physical benefits.

The basic essence of the art + yoga method is this: you will do a line drawing that represents your emotions and physical sensations. Then, you briefly practice gentle yoga poses (asana), controlled breathing exercises (pranayama) and meditation (dhyana). Then you complete a second drawing, followed by a specialized journaling technique called processing.

Here’s what is typically experienced:

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  • The experience of stress and anxiety is reduced.
  • People see a noticeable shift between the two drawings. In the second drawing, colors become brighter, the line shapes become softer. Words associated with the drawings become more positive, empowered, and encouraging.
  • When people journal with the artwork, they usually connect with a reassuring or wise inner voice. They are surprised when it offers a deepened and broader perspective.
  • People feel good that they brought themselves to a positive shift. They see that they have the choice to continue to do that. With that choice comes hope. They continue to practice the method.

Help is Here

I don’t have a chronic illness, but I have two parents, friends, and other family members who do. Every week I work with individuals with different forms of chronic illness; I have worked with individuals who have cancer and HIV/AIDS. I believe in the integrative art + yoga method, and I offer it from my heart. Although it is not a cure, there are many ways in which it helps. And in its help it offers hope. Read about the biological benefits of Art + Yoga here.

Try the Art + Yoga method for FREE! Sign up now to receive access to my 14-page e-book and activity guide. 


Jodi Rose Gonzales ATR, NCC, RYT200. Jodi Rose is an artist, art therapist, author, yogi and coach whose mission is to empower people to achieve lasting personal change and breakthrough professional results. Using a unique evidence-based program informed by art therapy, positive psychology, neuroscience and yoga, Jodi shows her clients how to achieve peak performance, peace of mind, enhanced clarity, and improved creativity and focus. Jodi offers live and virtual presentations, group workshops, and retreat intensives. Follow Jodi Rose on Facebook Instagram or Linked In. For more information email or visit