3 Highlights from the 7th International Working Group Conference on Women & Sports

Nashata is blessed to participate in the 7th IWG on Women & Sports held on the 17th-20th May in Gaborone, Botswana. Nura Arabi, Nashata Ambassador and I were there for the first time to present a paper and to participate in dialogues pertaining to women in sports. It was a great experience, a good platform not only to share your work, but to  network, have conversations and understand topic of interests in other market.

Nura Arabi presenting her paper at IWG

Nura Arabi presenting her paper at IWG

The conference brought together academicians, media, policy makers from sports federation, United Nations and several countries, as well as private sectors. Finland, being the last IWG host brought most participants after Botswana. Other representatives came from the UAE, Kuwait, Japan, Korea, Bangladesh, Israel, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Namibia, Uganda and South Africa.

1.  Lead the Change
The former President of Finland, HE Tarja Halonen, graced the event with an important reminder about having women leaders in sports. Birgitta Kervinen, the President of European Non-Government Sports Organization (ENGSO) supported the message : Dream, Speak up & Act. Be the leader & lead the change. A few other key speakers echoed the theme with strong emphasis on leading by efficient and effective example and to act with integrity.

Keynote Session 7th INTERNATIONAL WORKING GROUP ON WOMEN AND SPORT

Keynote Session 7th INTERNATIONAL WORKING GROUP ON WOMEN AND SPORT

The suggestions and sharing covered promoting and grooming female coaches, world class female athletes and sports media – inspire female athletes to progress further in sports. Female athletes should be given equal pay, just as men’s.

Although not highlighted at the conference, I find parents, especially mother play an important role in supporting girls in sports. Active or athletic parents have strong inclination to support children’s interests in sports, and they are good inspiration for children.

2. Safety for Women in Sports

Be it training or competition, it is important to provide adequate equipment, safe environment and space for athletes. In certain societies, due to cultural or religious belief, there could be constrain for a female athlete to travel without a family member or mahram. More conversations and awareness can help parents and organizations to understand safety protocols can be developed to ensure female athletes are safe while travel.

Asian Women and Sport Network

The International Olympic Committee has put together a kit on safe sports, available for public at https://www.olympic.org/athlete365/library/safe-sport/. You can find e-learning courses from their site.

3. Sports without Borders

I believe sports is a good way to bring people together. At the conference, a few examples were shared on how private sectors have helped marginalized community to participate in sports. It could be through donation, providing training, equipment and facilities and many more.

It is through programs by Sports  Outreach  and Sports Gift, athletes like Phiona Mutesi get to shine both in sports and academically.

Contact us if you are interested to participate in the next IWG in 2022!

Nashata sponsored a paper, titled The role of physical education in social integration, authored by Nura Arabi, Nashata Ambassador, echoed the spirit of diversity and respect. You can go through her slides here.

The 8th IWG World Conference on Women & Sports in 2022 in New Zealand. So please share the words around so that we have papers and thoughts shared at the conference. For the next IWG World Conference, Nashata is happy to sponsor accepted papers, authored by ASEAN scholars. We need more conversations and awareness so that our concerns and work can be understood and shared.

It’s Not Where I Go, But Who I Meet
Lastly, Gaborone is such a lovely city. The food was good, people are super friendly and hospitable. Every night, the organiser arranged lovely dinner followed by colorful performances. Here are some pictures of the colorful ladies from Africa!

Traditional Custom – Bostwana

Traditional Custome – Zambia

Nura Arabi – Nashata Ambassador

Strong yet sweet is who Nura Arabi is. A Canadian of Palestinian/Greek descent who resides in Abu Dhabi, Nura is full of positive energy inside out. This girl has broken many stereotypes. I first met Nura in 2016 when she came to Malaysia for a short visit tail end of Ramadhan. At that point, I admired her bravery for travelling alone from one country to another.

Nura Arabi finds Malaysia just like home.

We met again in Dubai early this year and she gave my daughter and I the best hospitality ever. My daughter will not forget the Camel Cookies she got us and I, on the other hand will never forget healthy meals and freshly-hand-squeezed orange juice she prepared for us while we were in Abu Dhabi.

FITNESS ++

To many, fitness is not just about building strength and ability to do headstands and push ups, but also eating healthy. But for Nura, it is beyond those. Her interest is rooted in research and development. She wants to help people to be better and that is aligned with what we do at Nashata – to empower women to have active lifestyle. A physical education (PE) teacher by profession, Nura instills the importance of discovery and growth as on-going process and she encourages students to see research activities central to daily life. At work, Nura teaches young children PE and swimming and every morning, she gives health tips for kids on Breakfast Club Show,  Pearl FM Radio 102.00, in UAE.

The Strength Within

SHE CARES & SHE SHARES

Strong and progressive, Nura cares a lot about building a healthy nation. She shares her views on how this can be achieved on newspaper, social media sites and podcasts. Her hard work and contribution in health promotion field was recognized and she was named as a Game Changer in GCC in the health promotion field. Hardworking and committed, Nura offers a lot of tips and knowledge to all.

Nurturing & Knowledgeable

Nurturing & Knowledgeable

SHE IS KNOWLEDGEABLE 

Teaching is in Nura’s blood. Her parents were teachers and her mother has been pivotal in her career and interest in fitness and education. After receiving her Masters in Education from Canada, Nura continues to read a lot and conduct researches pertaining to fitness and health.

You will never get tired of Nura.  Now, at 27, she is full of energy and has many fresh ideas. At dinner before she departed to Abu Dhabi, she told me about two things about keeping fit; Having the Knowledge and Willpower. Two of which you don’t hear much from others.

NURA – BREAKING STEREOTYPES

“I have heard about Nashata a while back but was a little skeptical (I have problems with online shopping) But when I checked everything in person, I fell in love. The material is light, breathable and will last you long. The black shirt I am wearing holds up to lulu lemon quality and can cross to a swim wear. ? The best part is the hijab. Fits like a glove around the head, the length stops at the neck ( doesn’t crumble under clothes) and very very light. You can literally take it anywhere and you can fit it in one of those coins purses”, says Nura on her Instagram/_ichallenger/

There will be more takeaways from energetic Nura, InsyaAllah, as she will be sharing her tips here at Nashata ! ?

Top 10 Inspirational Yoginis in Hijab

Do you need to be flexible to yoga? Do you need to be superfit or super lean to perform headstand and all those difficult-looking poses? The answer to all is NO. We are featuring yoginis in hijab across the globe and their lovely journey in yoga. With a common love in yoga, these 10 inspiring ladies from different ages and backgrounds share why they embark into yoga,  where they get their training from, their routines and their personal views on how yoga has benefited them.

For newbies and those who wanted to try yoga, you can learn from these strong and beautiful ladies. Just follow their instagram and nashatadotcom’s instagram for tips and updates.

YOGA IN HIJAB

Brunei ] [ Indonesia ] [ Malaysia ] [ Singapore ] [ United Arab Emirates ] [ USA ]

  • UAE : Nura Arabi
  • Brunei: YogaWithAmani
  • Indonesia : Lola Shariff
  • Indonesia : ErziYoga
  • Malaysia : Najwa
  • Malaysia : Nadia
  • Malaysia : Rita Rahayu
  • Singapore : Nura
  • Singapore : Farah
  • USA : Yasmin Essa

BRUNEI

Amani A. Muntassir, 30 @yogawithamani

~ Yoga is for everyone for all ages and different body types. You just have to start somewhere

Amani is a full time Biology teacher and part time yoga instructor in Brunei. She started yoga back in 2006 during her university days, where she set up a yoga club. Yoga is her way to release stress and she finds yoga to be different than other sports.  To her yoga eliminates all sense of competitiveness and comparing with others, while she focuses on herself, my own practice.

After completing 200 hour yoga training at Ubud Bali in December 2014, Amani teaches yoga. She is also a prenatal yoga teacher. Despite her busy schedule as a teacher, Amani teaches yoga three times a week at the studio. Other than teaching, she enjoys performing the yin style yoga and sometimes vinyasa or stronger yoga routines. Now, she joins her favourite international teachers online as ways to improve her routine.

AMANI IN FAVOURITE POSE : HEADSTAND

Amani in Favourite Pose : HeadStand

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INDONESIA

Lola Shariff, 39 @lolashariff

~ Yoga makes Lola happy and strong, and most of all to her, it is a never ending journey.

A self taught yogini initially, Lola started yoga when she had lower back pain in 2014. She joined yoga classes a year later and found improvements in her practice since, especially alignments. Lola works as a freelance subtitler, and she balances her time by attending classes twice a week at least, except weekends. She enjoys hatha, iyengar, power yoga, sometimes swing yoga and ashtanga. She practices backbends and handstands frequently at home.

LOLA IN FAVOURITE POSE : HANDSTAND

LolaShariff in Favourite Pose : HeadStand

Erzi, 31 @erziyoga

~ Yoga enfolded via Technology

A mother residing in Jakarta started yoga 3 and a half years ago when her sister took her to join a private yoga class. Since then, Erzi and friends have private yoga classes at sister’s house.

Yoga is a not a high impact activity and is an enjoyable journey. Despite gentle movement on a mat, yoga can make one sweat and build one’s energy, explains Erzi. To Erzi, yoga teaches her to breathe well and stay calm and relaxed in any conditions. Even though she has been learning yoga for more than 3 years, she still attends yoga classes at a studio and private yoga class once a week with her sister.

ERZI LOVES MEDITATION

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She starts her practice with meditation, minus chanting. To her, meditation connects her breathing with mind and that helps her improve her routines. She would then stretch her neck, arms, sides of my body, spine and continue to Sun Salutation A for 8-10 rounds before continuing to my peak pose of the day.

She advises other sisters to learn yoga online like Youtube, if there is no studio closeby. She shares that some of the well-known yoga teachers online has some beginner tips about how to get onto your mat while others have classes for beginners to intermediate level. She also finds instagram as a good channel to learn yoga.

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MALAYSIA

Najwa / Wawa, 31 @najwa.bulat

~ Learn from a qualified and professional instructors 

Najwa started yoga 17 years ago at a tender age of 14. She started yoga to improve asthmatic condition. Now, a Fitness & Yoga Instructor, Najwa finds yoga important to keep her improve body strength, maintain a lean body and to keep healthy & flexible. Most of all, the breathing techniques help cure her asthmatic problem.

Being a qualified Hatha Yoga Tutor from Slimhealth Aerobic & Dance Studio and a fitness instructor, Najwa’s routine is colorful. She urges beginners to learn from a qualified and professional instructor to reap the benefits of yoga so that you can get a lean, curvy and fit body.

NAJWA KEEPS A COLORFUL ROUTINE

Najwa

Here’s Najwa’s colorful routines that combines yoga with other types of workout:

1) Hatha Yoga
2) Body Weight Training
3) High Intensity Workout
4) Weight Training
5) Cardio Workout (Boxing+Aerobic+ Dance)

Nadiah Mohaizi, 36 @nadie_omgoing

~ You will be fascinated by what your body can do, and it comes a reminder to care for her body – a gift from Allah 

An engineer by profession, and certified yoga instructor, Nadiah started yoga to loose pregnancy weight. Yoga fits the need as she wanted something she could practice at home. She also finds yoga as a good weight training exercise as you’d need to do planks, lunges, inversion, and arm balances which are important for women to increase stamina and metabolism. To Nadia, yoga is not about the asanas (poses), but the journey into achieving them and to remain calm through proper breathing in maintaining poses. Keeping calm is important in her hectic daily life. Till today, she is fascinated by what her body can do and it serves as a reminder for her to care for her body – a gift from Allah.

NADIAH IN FAVOURITE POSE : forearm stand

nadiah 2

Like Erzi and Amani, Nadiah also uses technology to learn yoga at beginning stage. After which, she attended  Atilia freeyogafit class at KLCC. She took teacher training at MAYI to be a certified yoga instructor and now she practices Ashtanga at Mysoreroom KL in Binjai 8. She trains every other day for 10 minutes and suggests newbies to practice safe and find a good teacher to help with alignment and postures.

Rita Rahayu Omar, 41 @ritarahayuomar

~ Yoga is not a destination…it is a journey that enriches you every step of the way.

RITA feels happy when she is upside down

rita4

A mother of 4, a lactation consultant and an serial entrepreneur, Rita started yoga in 2011 when she was living abroad as an expat wife. At that time she had just lost her baby, and despite having support from husband and children she felt rather lost and depressed. She read a lot about yoga and was intrigued by it further after hearing friends talk about it. Soon, she hired a personal yoga instructor who came 5 days a week.

Rita emphasizes the importance of breathing techniques; the techniques that help achieve relaxation, mental clarity and eliminates stress , fatigues, depression and anxiety. She felt better and healthier after a few sessions and after 3 months into yoga, she was pregnant again and she continued to do yoga throughout her pregnancy. Her 4th baby is a peaceful, happy, yoga baby. He’s always wanting to practice yoga with Rita whenever he sees the mat!

Despite her busy schedule running her businesses Bebe Sachi and The KembaRA, Rita yoga at least once a day either in the morning or everning. She likes inversion poses because of its many health benefits. Among others it helps supply blood to brain, build your core strength and balance to our body.

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SINGAPORE

Nura Ahmad, 25 @yogawithnura

~ a fitness goal that became a self-growth and self-discovery journey

Nura started learning yoga at a young age of 17. She wanted to improve athletic performance and saw progressive results in stamina running long distance despite having asthma. She survived colon cancer and irritable bowel syndrome in 2012.

NURA ACTIVE IN YOGA @ 6 MONTHS of PREGNANcy

Currently 6 months pregnant with her first baby, Nura finds pranayama (breathing techniques) and a quiet 15 minutes mindfulness shapes her to be better version of herself, discovering  weakness and grounding herself from pride.  She dedicates 3-4 times weekly of prenatal, hatha and restorative yoga while committing herself to do house chores. A committed fitness entrepreneur at @fitness4muslimah and a certified yoga trainer (Ashtanga & Hatha), Kids Yoga teacher and Prenatal and Postnatal Yoga teacher, she advises other sisters to just show up on the mat, no matter how you feel that day.

Nura loves all yoga poses and always balance her flows with standing poses for concentration and balance, twists poses for internal detoxification and help keep irritable bowel syndrome at bay, hip openers, backbends aka heart openers which helps her a lot in strengthening interpersonal relationship with students and loved ones. She loves arm balances such as crow, eight angle and headstands for core and grow her upper body strength after spending almost half of her years building endurance in lower torso for athletic performance in school.

Farah Lyna, 31 @farah.yuj

~ Yoga is non-competitive, so there is no need to feel pressured or exert yourself in a pose.

From running to yoga, Farah, now a yoga teacher, started attending yoga classes 9 years ago and only looked into yoga seriously in 2013. Yoga became a regular practice when her scoliosis started to cause numbness on left leg.She received training from Tirisula Yoga in Singapore.

Farah starts her morning training with some pranayama (yoga breathing exercises), followed by a few rounds Sun Salutations and simple stretches like forward folds, backbends, twists and a headstand. She tries to do  Ashtanga practice at least once a week.

To Farah, everyone has a unique body type and it’s important to work within own physical limits. Farah echos other yoginis reminders that with regular practice & patience, our body will get used to the routines. Yoga is a journey of self-discovery.

SELF DISCOVERY THROUGH YOGA

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UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Nura Arabi @_iChallenger

~ You won’t understand the gain that is waiting for you until you try it and judge from experience.

Nura Arabi, like other sisters in fitness found love in yoga. Nura is a physical education and health teacher and she teaches swimming and Zumba and she writes about  fitness. She started yoga in 2015 and practices twice a week since. She started learning yoga at a Yoga center, after which she learn via youtube videos at time of convenience.

To Nura, yoga is a good way to get deep into herself as it teaches patience, body awareness and improves muscular and mental strength.

Nura Arabi in Favourite Pose : Tripod Headstand

Nura Arabi in Favourite Pose : Tripod Headstand

USA

Yasmin Essa HC, AADP, 27 @ wellnesswithyasmin.com & @yasminessa

~ Yoga is an artistic form of expression
Yasmin started yoga when she was a senior in high school and has been into fitness since. She was the first female student trainer at Montclair State University, but it was after college her love for yoga grew. Yoga helps reduce pain she has on her back due to  idiopathic scoliosis.

After going to classes at studios over the years, Yasmin is now a self-taught yogini and a board certified Holistic Health Coach. She keeps her routine interesting combining different types of workout activities. She does a lot of strength training, some HIIT for cardio, and yoga for flexibility and lengthening all of which she shares on instagram

YASMIN GRADUATED FROM THE Institute for Integrative Nutrition

yasmin essa

Yasmin enjoys flowing from downward dog to plank to upward dog to child’s pose as it warms her body up for a more rigorous workout, or to stretch out.

She reminds newbies not to compare yourself with others and to focus on being most present in your own body, mind, and soul.

Chelsea, Wellness Blogger @ MuslimahHealthy.com

~ You can never  get bored with yoga

Chelsea started yoga in May, 2015 when she was traveling a lot and didn’t have access to a gym. She fell in love with it so much that decided to start a full-time practice. Chelsea finds there is always something to work towards whether it is more advanced poses, building strength/flexibility, or working on form and technique. A self taught and self-motivated person, Chelsea constantly progress and keeps pushing herself to get better and better in yoga.

She practices the Ashtanga yoga method, memorizes a sequence of poses and practices every day. Once she feels she has mastered a certain set of poses, she would move on add more into her routine until she eventually memorizes the entire Ashtanga sequence – around 40 poses. Like many of the other yoginis, Chelsea really love inversions and arm-balances because of the core and shoulder work she gets. Her favorites would have to be the forearm stand, handstand  and backbend.

She reminds other sisters not to be afraid about not being flexible enough or skinny enough and they are not important. Yoga is for absolutely everyone and it is a progression. Chelsea does many other types of workouts and finds yoga great workout. She actually needs to keep a sweat rag next to her mat during practice!

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What are you waiting for girls? Just get onto the mat and go through the beautiful journey of yoga. You can get a lot of help from these inspiring yogonis!