It wasn’t until we stepped off the plane and onto the sandy Saudi Arabian soil that the reality and challenges of teaching yoga in such a culturally unfamiliar country started to settle in. The willingness, hard work, and anticipation for this unique journey had been present with us for the past year as we prepared for the trainings. Applying for visas into this secretive country, preparing our lesson plans, co-authoring our first book and imagining our future Saudi students were all part of our process leading up to the moment.
As co-facilitators, we balance each other’s energy to create a cohesive and well-adjusted experience for our students, yet these next trainings would challenge us beyond familiar facilitation. Among other cultural differences we would be adapting to, Saudi Arabia is gender segregated, meaning that Bridget would be leading the women’s training, while Dakota would lead a separate training for men.
Yoga was only recently legalized in Saudi Arabia, and women specifically, have long been denied the right to exercise publicly. Prior to the legalization of yoga in the conservative Muslim Kingdom, practicing and teaching could result in severe criminal charges from the government. Progress prevailed in 2017, when the government recognized yoga as a sport, opening the door for all Saudis to practice without fear of prosecution.
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