NEW DELHI: Nouf Marwaai, 37, who claims credit for Saudi Arabia giving yoga the status of a sport+ – making it “no more a deviant behaviour”- says she survived cancer because of yoga.

“Am a lupus survivor, and a breast cancer survivor…I didn’t go through chemo because my health was taken care of with yoga and naturopathic lifestyle,” she is quoted as saying, according to a tweet from a Doordarshan correspondent.

Jeddah-based Marwaai is said to be the country’s first certified woman yoga and Ayurveda expert, reported Arab News. When she was 19, Marwaai was looking for gentle therapeutic exercises and in her research happened upon yoga.

“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.

Having felt the salutary effects of practicing yoga, Marwaai wanted to learn more about it and decided to travel abroad to do so. She first went to Australia, where she earned a diploma in physiology and anatomy. She also studied Hatha Yoga and gained some knowledge of Ayurveda.

“After that I felt the need to go to India – the original land of this knowledge and learn more about the philosophy and therapy of yoga, where there are many colleges and universities of yoga and access to Ayurveda medical training and teachings,” said Marwaai.

After all this learning, Marwaai still struggled to teach yoga in Saudi Arabia, she told ANI news agency.

“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),” she said to ANI.

Now, the Saudi Ministry of Trade and Industry has listed Yoga under its sports category. And Marwaai will have a much easier time of it, as that means it is longer considered “deviant behaviour”, she wrote in a Facebook post earlier this week.

“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,” said Marwaai in the Facebook post.

 

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