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Yoga Triumph

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Bahrain Yoga Team dedicated its World Championship to India

By Raji Unnikrishnan

The Bahrain Yoga Team has etched their names in history by clinching the prestigious World Championship title at the Yoga Olympiad held in the serene landscapes of India, the birthplace of yoga. The happy and proud team members of the Bahrain Prop Yoga Team, who cherish the historic victory, have dedicated it to the ‘colourful and vibrant’ India as the nation celebrates its 75th Republic Day.

The team headed by Bahraini Ehsan Asghar features technical director Dr Komal Satpal Saini and programme director Rudresh Kumar, and Bahraini athletes Nuzhat Najam, Reham Farhat, and Zahraa Matar. They defeated four other international teams from China, Nigeria, Kenya, and Syria to win the Champion of Champion Awards at the Himalaya Yoga Olympiad in Bangalore, India.

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The team performed the yoga exercises, or asanas, and the advanced technique of Danda Dhauti, which involves passing a 91.4 cm-long, 6mm wide rubber stick into the oesophagus and taking it out again. It helps to remove excess bile from the intestine, excess mucus, and balance PH levels.

In an interview with Bahrain This Week, Ehsan, a visionary leader with a profound passion for yoga, said that he perceived this triumph not only as a personal milestone but also as a significant leap forward for his homeland. With a dream to see yoga recognised as a sport in the Olympics, he is committed to nurturing this vision through the guidance of his numerous students across the kingdom.

“I myself was sick… and I found my cure through yoga, and it was under my master, Shri Bandi Ramulu… and I carried on from there – it’s the parampara (legacy) as in the Indian tradition,” said Ehsan who set up the Bahrain-based Prop Yoga and Therapy Centre in Budaiya.

Including students in Bahrain and India, Ehsan has passed on the tradition to thousands of students since 2005.

“The whole point is to bring yoga, which is in India, to an international level,” he explained. “Our team has set those standards up right now, and we are expecting them to soon be on the next level. We were looking forward to yoga being a part of the Olympics later.”

Yoga, beyond a fitness solution, has a soul and a philosophy, explained Bahraini women Reham and Nuzhat, who were part of the team that went to India.

“The championship was quite a surprise—as much as we were looking forward to it, it came like a wave that just shook us all from our seats, and we didn’t know what to do,” said Reham, an interior designer.
“We just jumped on the stage. We were very happy and relieved that all of our efforts and discipline paid off. It still feels like a dream and an experience that I will forever remember and cherish. It was my first time to go to India; it was colourful and vibrant. Everyone is really smiling, and it is very welcoming. It’s very much the culture that is so beautiful.”

Personally, for Reham, yoga helps maintain balance in her busy life.

“Yoga balances my lifestyle because my work is very demanding and requires a lot of hard work. It requires a lot of time—a lot of sitting in the office, a lot of moving around—so at the end of the day or at the start of the day, there’s always a bit of yoga to balance this kind of life.”

Nuzhat also shared similar views.

“Only our team performed Danta Dhauti, and when we finished our performance, it was really a proud moment—coming all the way from Bahrain and we were doing it in India—it was an amazing moment,” she said.

She has been practicing yoga for almost five years and believes that it is beyond sports and a life skill. As a preschool teacher, she begins her day passionately by sharing the basic yoga breathing exercises with her students.

“I learned the asanas from Baba (Ehsan); he is our mentor and teaches us life skills to move forward,” she said.
“Yoga is basically our lifestyle; for us, yoga is basically not an exercise, not a sport.
“My children always start with some relaxing exercises before the lessons.”

Both women underlined the need for yoga to be delivered with its essence.

“It’s way beyond an exercise; it’s a philosophy that must be adopted into a lifestyle,” they reiterated.

Ehsan added to his students’ views, citing that yoga should not be considered only as a fitness solution.

“You need to live by it instead of just taking it as a way to be flexible or a way to be fit physically without being fit mentally,” he said, adding that the championship was very important for him and the team.

“This award means a lot because it’s something that was never there, and it’s taking yoga in Bahrain to the next level of where our next step is going to be. We are moving it forward in different directions; it is going to be sports as well as research and development.”

He added that the Prop Yoga team has signed up with different universities to support research and gracefully acknowledged the support and encouragement of the Bahraini government.

“I would want people to adapt yoga as a complete life. They should know where it is coming from and have a scientific approach with a lot of evidence. And if they can start adapting the complete cycle of yoga, it will help them physically and mentally. It will gift them better breathing, better lungs, better health, and better postures.”

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