10 May, 2021

Postures Today

Yoga saved her. Nouf Marwaai repays the debt by spreading it at home in Saudi Arabia.

Photograph by Jitender Gupta
Postures Today

If you thought all women of Saudi Arabia led closeted, and cosseted, lives, with little agency to better their condition and bound to convention, a conversation with Nouf Marwaai, 38, would enlighten you about the modern Saudi woman.

Detected with the severe auto-imm­une disease lupus when she was 18, Marwaai turned to yoga in her darkest days. The results drastically improved her health and changed her life. In turn, yoga claimed her as a champion of the ancient Indian practice—she is now a qualified teacher.

Says Marwaai, “Though I was born with lupus, it was diagnosed much later. I used to be underweight and had symptoms like severe fatigue, joint swelling, fever and was unable to eat most things…even milk, so my mother couldn’t breastfeed me.”

Marwaai’s father got exposed to yoga on a visit to Japan. Once he brought home a book on Iyengar Yoga. “I was fascinated by it….,” she says. The desperation to learn yoga came when she had to discontinue school because of bad health. “I used to flip...

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