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Saudi Arabia flags first yoga festival , signalling rise of India’s soft power in the Gulf

The first yoga festival in Saudi Arabia saw enthusiastic participation by hundreds of people from all age groups

It was an unprecedented one-day event in Saudi Arabia as the country hosted its first yoga festival. With hundreds of people thronging the Juman Park in King Abdullah Economic City on weekend, it was a sight to watch, showing the popularity of this discipline.

Interestingly, the country’s Ministry of Sport and Olympic Committee recognise yoga as a sports activity for health benefits.

Organised by the Saudi Yoga Committee, the event saw enthusiastic participation by children and grown-ups ranging from 10 to 60 years. The activities included different styles of yoga and the art of mindfulness.

The day’s proceedings commenced with yoga classes for adults by Murali Krishnan and those for kids by Sara Alamoudi. The participants had a chance not to just watch different forms of yoga by international yoga masters, enjoy demonstrations by yoga studios, and listen to insightful lectures but also practice yoga.

For the convenience of people, mats, pillows and rugs were made available.

Talking to Arab News, Nouf bint Muhammad Al-Maroui, the president of the Saudi Yoga Committee, said: “The festival was a great success and I am happy that not only Saudis welcomed but also embraced our thoughts on yoga, which was the sole purpose of the event. We want to promote yoga to families and encourage it in the country. We want Saudis to start their day with yoga, which does not take more than 20 minutes a day, which anyone can easily spare.”

She added that this discipline has gained popularity as an increasingly widespread therapy for wellness and alleviates a range of health problems and ailments.