Yoga in Amman Versus Yoga in DC


Harper's Ferry, West Virginia

Yoga in Amman is like everything else here–DIFFERENT, not bad, not good & EXPENSIVE (no values here!). Let me preface this comparison by acknowledging how THANKFUL I am to have found a place to go to practice yoga. I won’t call it a yoga studio, but a fitness club that offers classes twice a week. Here’s the shakedown of how yoga at home differs from yoga in Amman.

Yoga at Home in Old Town, Alexandria:

  1. I could WALK to the studio from my house, a short jaunt down a quaint street of historical, perfectly manicured homes, with GRASS, lots of dogs, cute boutiques and plenty of people out enjoying their day, regardless of the weather.
  2. I’m welcomed into a peaceful, serene space that smells like lavender or incense.
  3. I’m surrounded by like-minded people in fashionable, enviable yoga clothing–very unyogi-like , I know (that make me want to go home and order more Lululemon).
  4. The instructors are NICE and COMPLIMENTARY (and fit!).
  5. The music is hip and cool (similar to my musical tastes).
  6. People speak and smile to each other and the studio offers tea and cookies.
  7. Laughing is encouraged and practiced.
  8. Instructors encourage you to move at your own pace.
  9. You feel great after class: calm and collected.
  10. Although yoga is expensive, you don’t mind because you feel like it’s a value for the benefits you receive.

Yoga in Amman:

  1. I have to drive to the place (not a big deal, but driving here is DANGEROUS).
  2. There is no welcome. You enter, walk down a staircase into the inner sanctum of the gym that smells like a gym.
  3. No one wears yoga clothes.
  4. I was told and even asked to demonstrate how I do a pose the wrong way (Did I mention that I’m a certified yoga instructor? No one else has ever pointed out that I don’t do chair pose correctly. Shame on you former teachers of mine!) She told me that I’ve formed a bad “habit” and have to fix it.
  5. There is NO music! No sound, just the instructor’s voice.
  6. No smiling, no talking, no treats after class.
  7. No laughing allowed. This is very serious business.
  8. We all do the same pose, regardless of our level. Apparently, we are ALL beginners, plus there are long breaks in between the poses (we only did THREE, one of which was mountain pose).
  9. We practice Iyengar style yoga. Need I say more?  Iyengar is a form of yoga, which I’m sure is fabulous, but extremely strict about alignment. I prefer vinyasa-style yoga, active, energetic classes where you feel like you’ve gotten a workout. After class I asked the teacher if this was a beginner yoga class and she told me it was a “mixed level” class. We did THREE poses in one hour and fifteen minutes and used chairs as props. God help me. Breathe! I also asked if she ever teaches vinyasa classes. She said, “No, ALL teachers in Amman teach Iyengar.”
  10. I paid more per class than I do in DC.I expect to pay a lot in the land of milk and honey–it’s a big city with lots of options. Here in Amman there are NO options and the price should reflect this.
There you have it. Yoga in Amman is NOT fun or even fulfilling. I came home and did some more. Perhaps someday I’ll even learn to do chair pose correctly. Inshallah. Namaste.
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28 thoughts on “Yoga in Amman Versus Yoga in DC

  1. Are you going to ask S for a refund? Will you help institute some kirtan (sp?) after class? Sounds like my kind of class. Use of chairs and very slow. So are you insinuating that the class at my 24 hour fitness was better?

    1. Who is “S?” Did you get the instructor’s name, because I didn’t. Yes, dear sister, you listen well, I can start kirtan or maybe satya with the group, over a cappuccino. I hate to say it, but 24 Fitness yoga (fake as it was) beats this one, at least I sweat in that class and no one calls me out for not doing a pose right. In fact at 24 Hour, I’m the ONLY one who knows how to do the poses.

      1. I am stealing a page from the Julia Powell play book in not naming the yogi in which you trained in an undisclosed foreign location in case that Yogi comes upon your blog and is insulted. In case you can’t recall, Julia refers to her other as D, not suggesting that anything is going on with S but I didn’t want any bad karma for insulting him or his rebirthing exercises that you were so very fond of.

  2. I can’t believe you’re going to go back and PAY again! Meet up with the girls for coffee after and skip paying for that. Or a better idea would be invite the girls over and teach them yoga! But remember to leave out chair pose since you clearly aren’t an expert at that one.

      1. By the way, who had the nerve to give you 3 1/2 out of 5 stars? Tobie I’m so sad, it reminds me when I got an anonymous hate post at rate my teacher dot com, although I have my inkling over who would want to wound me by posting bad feedback. I feel your pain. Try not to let it get you down. It was probably just the unfit instructor that you insulted in the first place.

  3. I sent this on to Susie and John. I thought they would enjoy reading this.
    Hopefully you will be able to take a class with John soon.

    1. Thanks, Janice. I saw their studio written up in Yoga Journal a few months back (I just read it last month b/c all of my subscriptions are behind). Let’s meet in Jamaica for their retreat.

  4. Okay. I have to know. How long did you have to hold each of these 3 poses? I mean, did this instructor have you stop, “fix” it and do it again? Or did you stay in pose for 1/3 of class? I can’t imagine. How odd.

    1. We were in the poses for at least fifteen minutes a piece with lots of intermediary steps in between. No lie. Mountain pose, standing with your arms by your side and you shoulders back–fifteen minutes? She also told me I’m a “foot gripper” and my small feet she told me don’t help.

    1. Yeah, I know. Imagine what a great yogi I’ll be when I return to DC. I will master chair pose and will no longer be a “foot gripper” as I was told I am (she said that having small feet doesn’t help!).

  5. Hi Jen

    Like you living in Amman but single and working so probably seeing things from a slightly different angle.. However I like the pedicure tip and have already had hair done at Tony and Guy at the Hyatt – tried a few local places but for colour I reckon they know what they are doing! A good yoga class is what I miss the most – it has always been a great place to get to know people in a new country and would greatly appreciate it if you could let me know if you find one – how about starting a class yourself!! Cheers Sa

    1. Hi, Sam,
      Thanks for the comment. I’m continually looking for a yoga place here. I’ll let you know if anything pans out. I’m seriously considering starting a class myself, I’m just not sure where I’d do it.

  6. Hi Jen

    Enjoying your blog and would greatly appreciate it if you could let me know when you find a good yoga class. Will follow up your pedicure recommendation – had the Toni and Guy experience today – many thanks Sam

    1. How was Toni & Guy at the Hyatt? I read somewhere that it was more expensive than the Abdoun one. My only complaint with getting my hair done there is that they kind of “man handle” my long hair. Instead of combing through my super-tangly hair with a wide toothed comb and tons of tangle remover, they plow through it with a brush, which I can only imagine damages my hair.
      I’ll keep you in the yoga loop if I find anything. Best, Jen

  7. I’ll go to your class when you set it up… not cos I enjoy grumbling about Amman, though I’m very practiced.. but I really want to be part of a good class… keep us posted about details

  8. Hello,

    I just saw this post when I did a “Yoga in Amman” google search. For everyone’s reference there’s a nice studio in Amman called One With Nature Center. They also offer pilates (they have the only machines in Jordan I think) and dance/fitness classes. Their website is http://www.onewithnaturecenter.com.

    1. Hi Alisha,
      I have tried One with Nature, in fact at both locations (including the annex). The studio is nice, but I was looking for a Vinyasa class and that’s definitely not what I found, but thanks for the suggestion.

  9. Hi Jen,

    I’m a Georgetown student studying arabic in Amman this semester and while looking for a yoga class, I came across your blog. Did you ever find a good yoga class, while living in Amman? I practice a heated vinyasa flow at Down Dog in Georgetown back at home and am looking for a vinyasa or power yoga class. If not, maybe a good pilates class? I’m stuck running on a treadmill at a small gym by the University of Jordan right now, and am really missing my yoga. I would love your feedback!

    Thanks,
    Linnea Pittman

    1. Hi, there. Unfortunately, I never did. I took classes at a horrible gym by Cozmos for a while and then I tried One with Nature (equally abyssmal). The classes were geared for people who didn’t want to break a sweat and they were pricier than here in the DC area. I was left with no other option than to practice on my own. My favorite podscasts were from Sofi Dillof, a jivamukti teacher, which I downloaded free. I feel for you on the treadmill. There’s nothing worse than being forced to run indoors, especially when it’s lovely outside.
      Enjoy the rest if your time there and look forward to American-style yoga when you return to the states!

      1. Thank you for getting back to me so quickly, Jen. I appreciate your input, and am definitely looking forward to oodles of yoga when I get back to the states. But, I really would like to try to find a class or two to switch up my routine. I saw in another post you discussed barre classes in Amman, would you suggest those? Did you find any fitness classes that you considered challenging and enjoyable, while you were here? Or was it really a desert?:)

        Thanks again!

    1. Trust me, podcasts are the way to go, but if you’re a glutton for punishment, the place was over by Cozmo’s at a gym. I don’t remember the name, but it was tucked away in a random building that looks like all of the other buildings–very unhelpful, so sorry. The other place was called One to One and it was equally abysmal–more like restorative yoga for eighty years olds–not that there’s anything wrong with that, just not the rigorous practice I was looking to find. You’ll find that yoga in Amman is still considered taboo and that’s why it’s practiced in homes or almost in secret. Good luck! Namaste.

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