Since I've been in Amsterdam, I've attended several yoga and pilates classes. Including Gem Pilates StudiosSukha Yoga, and YogaZenter.

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!

Love this wall painting at YogaZenter Love this wall painting at YogaZenter

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:

Gezelligheid (Dutch pronunciation: [zlit]) is a Dutch abstract noun (adjective form gezellig) which, depending on context, can be translated as convivial, cosy, fun, quaint, or nice atmosphere, but can also connote belonging, time spent with loved ones, the fact of seeing a friend after a long absence, or general togetherness that gives a warm feeling.

The only common trait to all descriptions of gezelligheid is a rather general and abstract sensation of individual well-being that one typically shares with others. All descriptions involve a positive atmosphere, flow or vibe that colors the individual personal experience in a favorable way and in one way or another corresponds to social contexts.

As this is a very vague and abstract notion, the word is considered to be an example of untranslatability, and is one of the hardest words to translate to English. Some consider the word to encompass the heart of Dutch culture.

This is now my favorite Dutch word :)