The Saudi Ministry of Commerce and Industry this week approved the practice of yoga, a move that will enable anyone to get a licence to teach and provide service as a yoga teacher.
Saudi Arabia’s first yoga instructor and cancer survivor, Nouf Marwaai, also claimed in a Facebook post that the Saudi government has declared yoga as a sport.
“Yoga, which literally means ‘union’. A union of the individual with one’s wellbeing, a body to mind, emotions & soul, nation to globe has officially arrived at the seashore of Saudi Arabia. It has crossed the boundaries of fundamentalism…ideological extremism,” Nouf said in a Facebook post dated November 12.
“Since, its inception in Saudi, Yoga has observed a topsy-turvy path, with me as a medium. God gave me the strength to fight all difficulties, real difficulties. God was with me as an observer and infused courage in me whenever required. Here is a day, that finally practising yoga is no more a deviant behaviour in Saudi,” she further said in her FB post.
She also thanked King Salman Bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince HRH Mohammad Bin Salman for making the Muslim-majority country free from extremism and corruption. She praised them, saying they want to change the narrative from “Oil as Gold” to “Humanity as a Gold”.
“Who is trying to build our Nation on the lines of Sustainable Development Goals,” she said while referring to both of them. She also thanked the Indian Government and the Consulate General for “unlimited” support.
Yoga guru Ramdev has, meanwhile, appreciated the Saudi government’s move on Wednesday. “Saudi Arabia has taken a historic step by declaring Yoga as a sports activity. Yoga is a secular practice with lots of benefits,” he was quoted by ANI as saying.
In September, King Salman had ordered that women be allowed to drive cars in the Islamic kingdom, ending its status as the only country in the world to impose such restrictions.
Last week, Rafia Naaz, a woman yoga teacher in Ranchi, was allegedly threatened by members of her community after she performed yoga.
The present Indian government has made concerted efforts to promote yoga. In 2014, the Ministry of Ayush was established to develop education and research in ayurveda (Indian traditional medicine), yoga, naturopathy, unani, siddha, homoeopathy, Sowa-rigpa (Traditional Tibetan medicine), and other Indigenous Medicine systems. The United Nations has also declared June 21 as ‘International Yoga Day’.