New Delhi, Nov 14: The Saudi Arabian government has approved the practice of yoga as a sports activity, a social media post by Nouf Marwaai, founder of the Arab Yoga Foundation in the Saudi kingdom, claimed. She also thanked the Indian Government and the Consulate General for “unlimited” support.

“Yoga, which literally means ‘union’. A union of individual with ones wellbeing, a body to mind, emotions & soul, nation to globe has officially arrived at the sea shore of Saudi Arabia. It has crossed the boundaries of fundamentalism…ideological extremism,” she said in a Facebook post dated November 12.

She also wrote that since, its inception in Saudi, “Yoga has observed a topsy-turvy path, with me as a medium. God gave me strength to fight all difficulties, real difficulties. God was with me as an observer and infused courage in me whenever required. Here is a day, that finally practicing yoga is no more a deviant behaviour in Saudi.”

However, the account is not verified by the social media site.

The move has been hailed by Yoga guru Ramdev as well. He said, “By declaring Yoga as a ‘Sports Activity’ Saudi Arabia has taken a historic and scientific decision beyond religions. This will break the myth among Muslim community and open the doors for peace and health for them.”

The development comes at a time when many Muslims in India and elsewhere are under pressure from their religious leaders not to practice yoga which they claim is “un-Islamic”.

Last week, Rafia Naaz, a woman yoga teacher in Ranchi, was allegedly threatened by members of her community after she performed yoga. A fatwa was issued against her. Talking to a news agency, Naaz said, “I will not be scared and will continue with what I am doing.”

Yoga has been promoted in a big way by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and with concerted efforts by the government, the United Nations has also declared June 21 as ‘International Yoga Day’.

(Inputs from PTI)