Yogaopolis: Yoga Asana Cookies–Better Late Than Never


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It’s been TOO long and I’ve made too many shareable delights to delay any longer. One of my favorites from December is my batch of yoga asana cookies. As adorable as they were for the Yuletide season, I think they’ll be even cuter for Valentine’s Day when I outline the gingerbread men in pink. See for yourself…

Firstly, here are the cookie cutters, available at Baked Ideas. I opted for the ten piece set, but you can buy them in sets of five.

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Here’s the progression of dough to naked gingerbread men…

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…followed by piping of royal icing…

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…individually wrapped in baggies for gift giving…

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…and pictures of a few of the individual asanas…

Corpse pose
Corpse Pose
Plow Pose
Plow Pose
Lotus Pose
Lotus Pose
Side Angle Twist
Side Angle Twist
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Tree Pose
Full Wheel Pose
Full Wheel Pose

…and as decorations in my kitchen…

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I used Cook’s Illustrated’s Thick and Chewy Gingerbread Cookie Recipe, which I always use with great results.

For about twenty 5-inch gingerbread people or thirty 3-inch cookies

3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened slightly
3/4 cup unsulphured molasses
2 tablespoons milk

1. In food processor workbowl fitted with steel blade, process flour, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt, and baking soda until combined, about 10 seconds. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture and process until mixture is sandy and resembles very fine meal, about 15 seconds. With machine running, gradually add molasses and milk; process until dough is evenly moistened and forms soft mass, about 10 seconds. Alternatively, in bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, stir together flour, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt, and baking soda at low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Stop mixer and add butter pieces; mix at medium-low speed until mixture is sandy and resembles fine meal, about 1 1/2 minutes. Reduce speed to low and, with mixer running, gradually add molasses and milk; mix until dough is evenly moistened, about 20 seconds. Increase speed to medium and mix until thoroughly combined, about 10 seconds.

2. Scrape dough onto work surface; divide in half. Working with one portion of dough at a time, roll 1/4-inch thick between two large sheets of parchment paper. Leaving dough sandwiched between parchment layers, stack on cookie sheet and freeze until firm, 15 to 20 minutes. (Alternatively, refrigerate dough 2 hours or overnight.)

3. Adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

4. Remove one dough sheet from freezer; place on work surface. Peel off top parchment sheet and gently lay it back in place. Flip dough over; peel off and discard second parchment layer. Cut dough into 5-inch gingerbread people or 3-inch gingerbread cookies, transferring shapes to parchment-lined cookie sheets with wide metal spatula, spacing them 3/4 inch apart; set scraps aside. Repeat with remaining dough until cookie sheets are full. Bake cookies until set in centers and dough barely retains imprint when touched very gently with fingertip, 8 to 11 minutes, rotating cookie sheets front to back and switching positions top to bottom halfway through baking time. Do not overbake. Cool cookies on sheets 2 minutes, then remove with wide metal spatula to wire rack; cool to room temperature.

5. Gather scraps; repeat rolling, cutting, and baking in steps 2 and 4. Repeat with remaining dough until all dough is used.

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Caution: For HARDCORE Yogis ONLY!!!


If these yoga videos don’t inspire you, then nothing will. Namaste.

Think Rodney Yee as you watch this one.

I’m sure everyone has seen this third one–unrelated to yoga, but it’s too good not to watch again…

Jebel al-Qal’a, Citadel Hill in Amman


Temple of Hercules, Citadel Hill

We finally made it to Citadel Hill! This was our second attempt (after getting horribly lost the last time) in one month. It was no easy feat either; we had to go through City Center, the flea market area, which was more happening than normal. I saw fake Louis Vuitton’s on the street too, if anyone’s interested.

Citadel Hill, or Jebel al-Qal’a has been a happening place since the Paleolithic Age (that’s 18,000 years in case you don’t know your ages–I had to look it up). When the Romans moved in, they cleared away previous civilizations by chucking stuff over the hills, leaving heaps of archaeological booty. The two main features of the Citadel include the Temple of Hercules and the Umayyad Palace.

Temple of Hercules

The Temple of Hercules was built around the same time as the Roman Theater (across the hill). Remember when that was? Didn’t you read my post? [It was built between 169 and 177 AD]. The columns were re-erected in 1993 and lead to the inner sanctum (a.k.a. the cella). Within the inner sanctum, there’s a patch of bare, exposed rock believed to be ‘sacred rock’ that formed the centerpiece of the 9th century BC Ammonite Temple of Milcom. The dedication to Hercules isn’t really known, but due to the large amount of coins with images of Hercules, they believe it’s all in his honor.

Temple of Hercules
Roman Theater across the way
You can see how massive the columns are in relation to me.

Yoga Graffiti!

No trip to ruins would be complete without a few yoga graffiti poses to which I have to thank Raj, the photographer. Don’t think I’m the only obnoxious  yogi who does this either! As it turns out, there was a guy traveling alone who asked us if we could take a few pictures of him meditating, which we gladly did. He’s a yoga instructor from Mexico.

Scorpion on the "sacred rock" of the Ammonite Temple

The Umayyad Palace

Beyond the Temple of Hercules are the ruins of a small Byzantine church, in front of which stands the Umayyad Palace. The palace was built over the remains of a pre-existing Byzantine building, which is why it’s in the shape of a cross. There’s a dome on top of the palace, which is rife with controversy as to whether or not it’s historically accurate or if there ever was a dome on top. The interior of the palace is massive, much more so than you would expect from the exterior. As you exit the palace on the other side, opposite the entrance, you walk through a colonnaded street that leads to what are believed to have been administrative offices.

Small ruins of Byzantine church
The Umayyad Palace
Interior of Umayyad Palace
Opposite entrance of Umayyad Palace

There’s a museum up here as well that houses a collection of interesting artifacts found on the the site of Citadel Hill.  I found  these ‘pod’ shaped coffins to be the highlight of the collection. I’ve never seen anything like them. They’re constructed of pottery and remind me of the pods from the movie Cocoon. Remember that movie? It was horrible, but I think they stole the idea from these pods.

Cocoons
Jen Maan in Amman

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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.