JEDDAH: Having unlocked the transformative power of yoga in her own life, certified instructor Lana Nazer is now driven by a genuine desire to empower the Saudi community to reach their full potential with the physical and mental benefits of the practice.
His introduction to the realm of yoga began with his mother’s influence. She grew up watching her do yoga and was drawn to the beauty and simplicity of the positions.
She remembers how, as a child, she used to watch a yoga class on a DVD player, laying the foundation for a practice that flourished during her teenage years in Canada.
Nazer shared her inspiring journey through yoga with Arab News, from her initial exposure to the practice to becoming a certified instructor.
When asked how it all started, she said she has been practicing yoga for over 33 years. “Thanks to my mother who introduced me to this when I was a child. It’s not just about poses; it’s like my daily boost of joy, keeping me peaceful, joyful and optimistic through life’s upheavals,” she said.
“Since then, my yoga path has taken me to various trainings in the US, UK and Europe.”
The Saudi Yoga Committee played a crucial role in promoting yoga. Their efforts contributed to the growth of yoga in the Kingdom, promoting awareness and creating a supportive environment for practitioners.
Lana Nazeryoga instructor
Although life took her down different paths, including college and work, yoga remained a constant presence in the background. “My journey with yoga is intertwined with lifelong exposure to the practice. Initially, it was just an exercise routine for me. The pivotal moment came at age 15, when I walked into a hot yoga class with my mom, sparking an instant obsession.
“Through college, this evolved into a daily necessity. After college, a job opportunity took me to the US, where I decided to embark on teacher training – initially not to teach, but to deepen my understanding of yoga. Over the course of nine months, I immersed myself in the practice,” she explained.
Yoga has also been shown to be beneficial for Nazer’s mental health. “It wasn’t just the physical challenge that captivated me, but the profound mental well-being I experienced after the class. As a naturally fiery person, yoga has become my go-to tool for calming my mind and controlling my thoughts,” she said.
Nazer’s journey with yoga took another crucial turn when she decided to share this transformative practice with her community in Saudi Arabia.
It was a decision that was not taken lightly, but one that was rooted in a desire to deepen her connection with yoga and share its transformative power with her own people.
She founded her own brand, Karama Yoga. “I started with a home studio for seven years before opening our new space last Ramadan. At that time, yoga was not popular in the region, but my journey from personal practice to local sharing has been a rewarding evolution.”
Karama Yoga represents not just a physical space, but a flourishing testament to the collective growth and impact of yoga’s potential, especially in Saudi Arabia.
Speaking about what motivates her, she said: “What has kept me on my yoga journey, especially as a Saudi woman offering yoga in Saudi Arabia, comes down to two reasons. Firstly, the name ‘Karama’ takes inspiration from ‘karamat’, denoting one’s inherent gifts. I firmly believe that everyone has a unique gift and the teaching is mine. (Secondly,) I’m not just an instructor, I’m an avid student of yoga, integrating it seamlessly into every aspect of my life.”
As Nazer continues to deepen her practice and build confidence in her teaching skills, she envisions a future where she can share the transformative power of yoga with a wider audience.
She said: “My commitment is deeply rooted in a genuine desire to serve my community. Even before the popularity of yoga and wellness in Saudi Arabia, I recognized the deep need within my community for a practice that promotes holistic health – physical, mental and emotional.”
Her goal is to inspire others to embark on their yoga journey and experience the healing and empowerment it can provide.
Teaching yoga at Karama Yoga allows her to stay connected with those around her and improve the well-being of her community.
“My goal is to unite, empower and inspire women to be proud of their heritage, love themselves as they are and improve their relationship with their health and well-being through yoga,” she said.
Nazer, considered a pioneer of yoga in Saudi Arabia, praised the role of the Ministry of Sports in recognizing it as a sport and establishing the Saudi Yoga Committee. “This marks a significant change. It brought support from the Ministry of Sports and shows the growing acceptance and importance of yoga in the Kingdom. The entire health and wellness scene is booming in Saudi Arabia. I can finally say that yoga is not just a trend, it is becoming an everyday staple for many members of the community,” she said.
“The Saudi Yoga Committee has played a crucial role in promoting yoga. Their efforts have contributed to the growth of yoga in the Kingdom, promoting awareness and creating a supportive environment for practitioners,” he added.
The certified trainer in eight styles of yoga highlighted that Saudis are increasingly attracted to yoga due to its benefits.
“At that time, people joined for purely physical reasons, to strengthen the body, gain flexibility and alleviate body stiffness. Now, there is a big change – students are joining mainly for the mental and emotional benefits: to relieve stress and deal with everyday challenges.”
Recently, Nazer participated in the AlUla Wellness Festival and feels proud to be part of it.
“Being part of the AlUla Wellness Festival was a dream come true. The opportunity to showcase Karama Yoga and contribute to the wellness community aligned perfectly with the positive energy and vision of the festival.”
Your advice for someone who has never tried yoga? “Two minutes of yoga a day will change your life.”