Saudi Arabia on Tuesday officially designated yoga as a sport, and part of the credit goes to Nouf Marwaii, who has been advocating the cause for several years. Marwaii, the founder of Arab Yoga Foundation, in a Facebook post on Sunday , announced that the Saudi Ministry of Trade and Industry has, in a historic move, listed yoga as a sports activity. The Riyadh-based businesswoman has been advocating the practice of yoga for several years and is an expert in the field herself.
“Yoga, which literally means ‘union’. A union of individual with ones wellbeing, a body to mind, emotions & soul, nation to globe has officially arrived at the sea shore of Saudi Arabia. It has crossed the boundaries of fundamentalism, MB fanaticism and ideological extremism,” Marwaii, 37, wrote in a Facebook post on November 12.
“Since, its inception in Saudi, Yoga has observed a topsy-turvy path, with me as a medium. God gave me 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 practicing yoga is no more a deviant behavior in Saudi,” the Jeddah-based woman added in her FB post.
Marwaii said that she struggled in Saudi before the decision as she could not teach yoga officially, nor obtain a license to practice. “I had to face a lot of accusations and threats. Any article that was released about yoga or yoga day, I would receive many messages and texts. I could not teach yoga officially. I also couldn’t get a license in 2012 for naturopathy center, even after spending $1 million, just because it wasn’t classified yet,” Marwaii said, speaking to news agency ANI.
In her post, Marwaii thanks Indians, the Indian Government and the Consulate General for helping her in her journey. “They supported the me unlimitedly. I thank and express my sincere gratitude to every Indian who has helped us in the journey,” she added. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was instrumental in the United Nations’ decision to mark June 21 as International Yoga Day.
(With inputs from ANI)