Nouf Marwaai, a 37 year-old-woman, has made a big claim that the Saudi Arabian government has approved the practice of yoga as a sports activity. She claimed the credit for Saudi Arabia giving yoga the status of a sport making it “no more a deviant behaviour”. She further claims that she suffered from lupus and is also a breast cancer survivor. She said that she didn’t go through chemo because her health was taken care of through yoga and naturopathic lifestyle. In an interview with Arab News, Jeddah based Marwaai opened up about herself and said that when she was 19, she was looking for gentle therapeutic exercises and in her research happened upon yoga. She is the country’s first certified woman yoga and Ayurveda expert.
“I desperately searched for yoga classes or teachers but couldn’t find any. So, I started self-practicing with the limited resources I could access. I found an Indian teacher and started practicing with her for a year. Very soon, I realized its benefits for the mind and body,” Marwaai told Arab News. To learn more about Yoga, she went to Australia, where she earned a diploma in physiology and anatomy. She also studied Hatha Yoga and gained some knowledge of Ayurveda.
Speaking to ANI, she explained the difficulties she went through to teach yoga in Saudi Arabia saying, “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 USD 1 million, just because it wasn’t classified yet (as a sport).”
However, with the Saudi Ministry of Trade and Industry listing Yoga under its sports category, Marwaai is expected to have a much easier time.