President of the Saudi Yoga Committee Nouf Al Marwaai (centre) attends a symposium in Riyadh. Image Credit: Saudi news agency SPA

Cairo: Several agreements will be sealed in the next few months with major universities in Saudi Arabia to bolster practice of yoga on campuses, head of the Saudi Yoga Committee Nouf Al Marwaai has disclosed.

Yoga was allowed into Saudi Arabia in 2017 as part of dramatic changes in the kingdom and openness to the outside world, according to media reports.

The ancient practice gained popularity during the pandemic-induced lockdowns as a way of relaxation and reducing stress.

The Saudi Yoga Committee, which was created in 2021 as part of the kingdom’s Olympic Committee, aims to discover and groom practitioners of yoga and the yogasana sport for local and international competitions, Al Maraawi told the Saudi news agency SPA. “The practice of yoga should be a sustainable activity in universities for the staff and students due to its health and wellness benefits,” she said without giving details about the envisaged pacts.

“A key component of the Saudi Vision 2020 is consolidating participation in sport activities and achieving distinction at local, continental and international levels,” the official added, referring to the kingdom’s ambitious national development scheme. Hailing support from the Saudi Universities Sports Federation for the practice of yoga, she cited hosting by the University of Business and Technology in Jeddah of a yoga training camp and a yogasana championship. Moreover, the Dar Al Hakma University, a non-profit higher education institution for women in Jeddah, hosted training courses for yoga coaches.

Al Marwaai made the remarks on the sidelines of her participation in a symposium on university sports organised by the Saudi Universities Sports Federation in the capital Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia’s first yoga festival was held in the Red Sea city of Jeddah last year.