Yoga and Pilates classes in Amsterdam are very different than what I'm used to. For one, the atmosphere is more like entering someone's home than a business. There are candles, relaxing music, and they'll even make you tea! One class had a super cute yoga dog running around!
Usually, I'm the only person who speaks English-only. So once the instructor realizes this, she conducts the whole class in English vs Dutch (since the Dutch speakers also understand English).
It feels a lot like a community - the instructor and the students all know each other, including details about each others personal lives.
And the classes are conducted a very relaxing / timeless manner. By that, I mean, that when you go to a typical yoga class in the US, it feels like a rushed no pain / no gain efficient system. You use the time you have to get the biggest / hardest workout you can. Even when the yoga instructor says to listen to your body and not push yourself, you can't help but compare yourself to all the others in the class and worry about the next posture before you finish your current one. For example, in my hot yoga class, I know that when I get to the core part of the work out, it's almost done. Or if we're in pigeon pose, then savasana is coming up next.
The classes that I've gone to here in Amsterdam really feel like they're about healing. They're slow and relaxing and the sense of time gets lost. The poses are a lot simpler. However, especially in YogaZenter's class, the time given for each pose really allowed me to relax into it, explore my body, and push myself way beyond my limits. I was really present in each pose. I got the workout, but without the stressful "no pain / no gain" mentality. Each class was truly magical, leaving me feeling beyond incredible - relaxed and invigorated at the same time.
When I mentioned this difference to a Dutch friend, he immediately told me about the Dutch word Gezelligheid. He couldn't give a direct translation to English, but the Wikipedia article gives you the idea:
This is now my favorite Dutch word :)