Interview: Newly Qualified Yoga Teacher Jordan Crowley on Teacher Training in 2020


Jordan Crowley has just graduated as a yoga teacher on the YogaLondon 200-hour, year-long course. We asked this capable, bright Events Manager what it was like to study during a pandemic and how training to be a yoga teacher has changed her life. Oh, and we find out about her adorable new puppy Fabio, and how she’s gotten over her fear of public speaking.

1. You’ve just qualified as a Yoga Teacher! What was it like to study in 2020?

It’s been a funny one. We were lucky enough to have a couple of weekends in person to get into it before everything kicked off. When we went into the first lockdown a couple of people had to drop out because they couldn’t study from home. I was definitely worried at the beginning that we wouldn’t be able to get it done.

As it turned out we missed two sessions, but we then started up again on Zoom, and the course was a bit of a life-saver. We suddenly had nothing to do apart from working from home, which was awful. The course became something to look forward to and to get together with other people – it was really lovely. 2020 has actually been a really good time to do the Yoga Teacher Training as it’s been something positive to focus on.

2. What were the pros of learning to teach yoga on Zoom?

The great thing about Zoom is that you have the flexibility to do it in your own house. I live in East London so London Bridge (where Jordan studied her course) is only a bike ride away, but some people live further afield so it was really convenient for them.

When we did online meditation we could go and get all our bolsters and blankets and make a cosy meditation nest.

Also, YogaLondon allowed us to start making up missed classes, so it was easy to catch up with extra weekends by joining other groups on Zoom. I also did some online classes to get some extra practice.

3. And the not-so-good bits of learning on Zoom?

The cons were that it was on Zoom. My day job is as an Events manager and it was obviously a really weird time. I spent so much time over the summer months on Zoom and, personally, I’ve always preferred personal interactions anyway.

4. Have you taught an official yoga class yet, and were you nervous?

I’ve taught family and friends over Zoom. Again the positives of Zoom mean that I managed to practice teaching a lot as people are a lot less time-restricted. My sister lives in France so I did a couple of classes a week with her. We’re really close but we don’t spend that much time together, so it was a really nice way of seeing her.

I’ve taught very small groups in person, but I think I would be nervous to teach a larger group. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing!

 5. How has the YTT changed you as a person?

I used to hate public speaking and would try to get out of it at work, but since doing the YTT I’ve found that it has really helped me to get over that fear and channel a sense of calm and confidence.

It has also helped a lot with the way I approach situations, with more mindfulness and positive thinking. This is very different for me as I’m pretty good at catastrophizing. The philosophy has also helped with this – understanding the concepts of Atman and Brahman, and how in the scheme of things our thoughts are irrelevant.

6. What support did you get during your yoga teacher training?

Jo was our Course Leader and she was really good at motivating us once we got back into the studio, as it was pretty physically intense. She could sense when our energy was dropping and was really reassuring and acknowledged that it was an unusual situation.

The group I was with were fantastic. In fact, the whole YogaLondon network was so supportive – all the teachers, and even people who’d done the course before. They did a great job adapting to such a bizarre year. They even got us through on time, and without it feeling stressful.

7. You’ve succumbed to the puppy mania that has swept the nation and bought a lockdown puppy – tell us all about him!

He’s a Chinese crested powderpuff puppy (yes, this is an actual breed) called Fabio and he’s the most excitable little ball of fluff. He’s got quite a mouth on him too – typical small dog syndrome.

He prances around like a little prince. When we take him for walks he’ll just sit down when he’s had enough and wait to be picked up. We also have two lovebirds. They’ll either bond with their human and with each other and they’ve bonded with each other, so they sit in their cage hugging all day and don’t want to be touched. When the birds are squawking and the dog is barking it can be a pretty loud house.

8. Do you feel there is further to go in terms of openly gay women yoga teachers?

My gayness didn’t even come into question on the course. Everyone was so welcoming, you could have been anyone and they’d have loved you. It’s true that there isn’t a huge amount of female gay representation in the yoga world – there certainly seems to be more gay men, as I’ve met quite a few. But perhaps it’s because sometimes gay women aren’t as obvious?

It’s not talked about as much. There’s certainly a problem with representation and visibility in the wellness industry too, with a predominance of straight, white women.

9. What’s your opinion on black representation in the wellness industry as a whole?

I follow @theunderbellyyoga (Jessamyn Stanley’s yoga brand) on Instagram who is a black, body-posi, queer yoga teacher – there are not many of them.

I also organise an annual wellness festival. I have strong opinions about this as the wellness industry is dominated by white ladies of a certain age. There’s also NoireFitfest, which is the first black wellness festival.

As a white woman, it can be nerve-wracking to approach people to be part of festivals like this, as it can come across as tokenistic. Or I might say the wrong thing. Or you can be perceived as a white saviour. But people have said that as long as you are authentic they can tell that you mean it. You just have to accept that you might mess up, and then you have to pick yourself up and keep going.

10. What are your hopes and dreams for 2021?

I’d love a little normality and for things to settle down! I’d like to find out what my yoga teaching journey will be. Knowing me, it won’t be standard, but will probably involve retreats and events. I’d like to keep the sense of space and the reprieve from the intensity of work, to make sure I maintain that for myself as things get busier.

I have a plan for teaching more, but for now, it will be alongside my current job. It was the first time in my adult life that I had done something for myself that wasn’t work and it was a great feeling.

11. What are you hoping to get in your Christmas stocking?

Actually, my Mum keeps pestering me! I’ve asked for some yogi stuff, but apart from that I’m struggling to think of anything. I know I’m getting some Mala beads that my Mum already had. She’s a Reiki therapist and reflexologist and has a psychic group so I’ve grown up with her as a healer. She sometimes does yoga with me, but yoga’s not really her main thing.

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