Thiruvananthapuram: All eyes were on the Saudi Arabian yoga expert Nouf al Marwaai as she graced the inaugural ceremony of the 8th edition of the Asian Yoga Championship here. The Indian government has honoured Marwaai with the Padma Shri for her incredible efforts to promote yoga.
Marwaai, who was diagnosed with lupus years ago, got to know about the discipline of yoga from a book that her father had gifted her. She didn’t wait longer before beginning to practise yoga as a remedy against the systemic autoimmune disease which affected her skin and joints. However, it was extremely difficult to find a yoga instructor in Saudi Arabia. Besides, many in the religiously orthodox country raised their eyebrows when a woman set out to promote the positive effects of yoga. But Marwaai was determined to fight against lupus with the help of yoga.
Marwaai even survived her bout with cancer around 4 years ago and the immense mental strength she had acquired over the years helped.
The yoga expert says that the discipline also helps to keep a check on the mental and emotional well being of a person. Marwaai's experiences prove that yoga, which is hailed as one of the greatest contributions of India to the world, has surpassed religious barriers to become popular globally. In 2005, Marwaai opened a school in Saudi Arabia to promote the tenets of yoga.
In 2010, the Arab foundation too honoured Marwaai for her incredible contributions to yoga. She was presented with the Yoga Guru award at the inaugural event of the Asian Yoga Championship held at Thiruvananthapuram.
Jharkhand native Anusha Karmakar impressed the audience at the Asian Yoga Championship with her impeccable performances. India had set high hopes on the young woman in the event. In 2009, Anusha had made her country proud by winning three gold medals at the world championship held in Rome.
This time Anusha's younger sister Anushka too competed in five events in the event. The siblings are trained in yoga from childhood itself by their parents Vaishali and Praveer Karmakar who are noted yoga instructors. It is Vaishali who saw to it that her kids too are into the discipline from a young age itself.
Anusha Karmakar is a B Com student at the Delhi University and Anushka studies in class 8. The yoga enthusiasts who turned up at the Jimmy George Indoor Stadium watched the sisters perform in the artistic pair event.
The 8th Asian Yoga Sports Championship was held Thiruvananthapuram from September 27 to 30.