3 common issues with yoga

Attention one time yogis - read this and then try again! :)
Throughout the holiday season, I've been catching up with a lot of new and old friends at holiday parties and answering the usual, "what do you do?" and "how have you been?" questions. So often, the topic ends up with: yoga. I've come across a lot of people who have wanted to try yoga or have tried yoga and for one reason or another, didn't like it. (Gasp!) But I'm beginning to understand why and I'd like to help clear some things up to balance expectations about yoga with reality!

1.) The teacher didn't explain enough. One of the biggest gripes I hear from first-time or one-time-yogis is that the instructor didn't explain the poses enough or didn't tell them if they were doing the poses correctly. One of the biggest reminders I could offer for this expectation is that yoga is not a sport or an exercise class, so don't expect it to be taught like that.

Yoga is a meditative practice, so don't expect the teacher to narrate everything, tell you why you're doing each pose or explain the philosophy of yoga during class because THAT would drive you insane anyway. If you have questions afterward, ask, but usually, the teacher is explaining enough. Understand that there is no "right or wrong" to beginning yoga poses; it is a seriously personal practice and mental discipline, so as long as it feels good for you, don't read into it too much.

2.) The teacher kept adjusting me/didn't correct me at all! There are two very opposing "schools" of yoga, if you will: one that believes students should be physically adjusted often and the other that opposes the concept of any physical adjustment unless absolutely necessary. Both encourage verbal and self-adjustment, but the goal behind NOT touching students is to encourage them to tune into their own body, not be striving to fit any mold. Myself and many other teacher and students probably fall somewhere in between these two beliefs. I definitely do not see a benefit to adjusting students obsessively, as this can effect confidence, concentration and, in turn, progress, but I do believe that there are certain postures that can be gently adjusted to allow for deeper release or opening that cannot be achieved by a student's own volition. 

If your teacher approaches you to adjust you, stay calm and keep in mind that you're not doing anything wrong. He/she is just trying to help you feel something a little different. If you would like to be adjusted more often, understand why many teachers may not want to disrupt your practice in this way, but feel free to ask or seek another more "hands-on" teacher.

3.) The class was too hard/too boring. This is a big one, so please do your research before attending a class and try to keep things in perspective. If you've never taken a yoga class, make sure you're signing up for a beginner's class and take it easy. Sometimes, you may feel lost in community yoga classes or large classes, so either start with a few private lessons from a local studio or do your best and don't do anything that doesn't feel good. Yoga should never be painful and your teacher should (hopefully) offer modifications for various levels. If you're already in shape and find that the class was not enough for you, keep in mind that there are dozens of different types of yoga, taught at hundreds of different studios by thousands of different teachers.

Disclaimer: As with anything, nit-picking can squelch even the best yoga experience. If you didn't like the music that particular day, thought the paint choices were lame or would have chosen a different candle scent, do suck it up a bit. What are you here for? Mental and physical discipline or pedantics?
If you really had some sort of terrible yoga experience, I understand your hesitation, but trying one teacher or one place is not exactly giving it a fair chance. You ended up there in the first place seeking something...peace, relaxation, physical strength...etc. so don't give up so easily. Not everyone will resonate with the same style of yoga or the same teacher, but the mental and physical benefits are really worth finding one that will. It's hard to go into a new practice without any expectations at all, but if you keep an open mind, yoga will change you and you'll understand so much more about yourself and yoga. 

Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar, or B.K.S. Iyengar, is one of the foremost yoga teachers in the world and has been practicing/teaching for over 75 years. He sums up this idea well:
"Yoga, an ancient but perfect science, deals with the evolution of humanity. This evolution includes all aspects of one's being, from bodily health to self-realization. Yoga means union -- the union of body with consciousness and consciousness with the soul. Yoga cultivates the ways of maintaining a balanced attitude in day-to-day life and endows skill in the performance of one's actions." - B.K.S. Iyengar

Namaste!