JEDDAH: Yoga will soon be introduced to schools in the Kingdom as a sport, the president of the Saudi Yoga Committee, Nouf Al-Marwaai, has said.
Al-Marwaai said there was cooperation with the Ministry of Education to introduce yoga to all schools in the country as part of the curriculum due to its multitude of health benefits.
Earlier this week, on March 9, there was an introductory lecture highlighting the cooperation between the SYC and the Saudi School Sports Federation and what would transpire from the nationwide collaboration on the future of yoga in schools.
The Ministry of Commerce approved the teaching and practice of yoga as a sport in the Kingdom in Nov. 2017.
Al-Marwaai also said in an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat that yoga was expanding in the Kingdom due to its significance for mental and physical health.
Wednesday’s introductory lecture was attended by school principals and physical education teachers from all stages of education, with the aim of mobilizing the strategy from the Ministry of Education and the SYC.
It also discussed the aspirations to raise the level of pupils’ sports participation at a local and international level, as well as advancing the health of young Saudis.
Certified yoga instructor and founder of Ananda Yoga Studio, Khalid Jama’an Al-Zahrani, told Arab News: “As I started to dive deep in yoga, I never stopped discovering its incredible benefits as is it a whole and transformative sport that leads its practitioners to a calmer and clearer mind and stronger and healthier physique.
Our school system in the Kingdom has always ensured that all its activities are aimed at contributing to the development of the students, from both physical and academic aspects, and I believe that introducing yoga to the Saudi education system is a nourishing and effective move.
Khalid Jama’an Al-Zahrani, Certified yoga instructor
“Our school system in the Kingdom has always ensured that all its activities are aimed at contributing to the development of the students, from both physical and academic aspects, and I believe that introducing yoga to the Saudi education system is a nourishing and effective move.”
Al-Zahrani said that having yoga at school would be an investment as it would lead to more educational reforms that would benefit children, their families and the community as a whole.
“We live in a technological era where everyone’s on their phones, tablets, devices, distracted from the present, which has a negative impact on our concentration. And so, we need to train our youngsters and ourselves to reflect on what is within, and practice yoga to gain discipline and nurture the mind with what is important.”
Al-Marwaai said there were many plans to expand the scope and objectives of the SYC, and that there were many areas that needed to be covered to allow the implementation of yoga in schools on a large scale.
She is regarded as the first Saudi woman to teach yoga and has become the driver in gaining the Ministry of Education’s approval and pushing for yoga as a sport.
The Arab Yoga Foundation was founded and established in 2006 by Al-Marwaai, the first Saudi yogacharya (certified yoga instructor).
It was recognized by the Yoga Alliance and International Yoga Federation in 2009.
The AYF educates people and society about the health benefits of yoga, promoting it through courses, seminars and conferences.
Earlier this year, in January, more than 1,000 people from across Saudi Arabia went to the country’s first yoga festival.
It was held in Juman Park, King Abdullah Economic City.