Ferozah MacKenzie, Teacher
Having practiced yoga on and off in her free time for as long as she’s been teaching, Ferozah understands the power that yoga has to create quiet in the midst of chaos, allowing her to destress and reenergize no matter what happens in the classroom. After hearing about Yoga Ed.’s programming from another mom at her sons’ school, Ferozah saw a way that she could translate those same benefits into her workday, and to her students. “I felt like it was time to invest in myself in a way that would benefit my students for years to come,” she recalls. “I wanted to offer my students something that they wouldn’t encounter in their daily lives.”
With her mind set on bringing yoga to Kalihi Kai as an after-school program, Ferozah enrolled in Yoga Ed’s Hawaii Immersion program, learning to facilitate mat yoga classes for children and teens in a way that would work for her in her school.
Now halfway through the school year, Ferozah has noticed an immense shift not only in what she can bring her students, but in her home life as a mother and personally as an educator.
The Gift that Keeps on Giving
At Kalihi Kai, Ferozah was able to garner the support of the administration to start an after-school Yoga Club. “I am very fortunate to have a supportive principal,” Ferozah says. “I have also had the opportunity to teach yoga during the school day, and go into classes to teach full mat classes.” All of this exposure to yoga has given her students an opportunity to grow. “In Yoga Club, more than half of the students are lower achieving, yet are thriving in this setting. It allows me to teach them coping mechanisms that they can apply in the classroom.” Ferozah and her fellow teachers have observed that the students have gained confidence that they had never before tapped into, and now have the efficacy to “better deal with their stress and find positive ways to react in challenging situations.” For many of her students who are considered at-risk, this development is hugely empowering. By being able to connect with their breath—whether in Yoga Club, in the classroom, on the playground, or at home—Ferozah’s students are able to respond to stressful situations with thought and intention, rather than mindlessly reacting under pressure. It allows them to take charge of their emotions, and regain control of themselves, even if they don’t have control over their circumstances.
And for herself? By treating herself to this professional development opportunity with Yoga Ed., Ferozah has noted opportunity for personal growth as well. “It has brought an awareness to the need to be present in the moment,” she says, “and has helped me be more self-aware in my performance as a teacher and academic coach.” Through Yoga Ed.’s lesson plans and teaching philosophy, Ferozah has found ways to create well-rounded lessons that teach to the whole child, and allow her the space to slow down and take care of herself during the school day. Admittedly, the process has pushed her out of her comfort zone in ways she never expected, but in the end, the results have been pivotal.
By taking the chance on herself and expanding her own skill set through Yoga Ed., Ferozah has been able to give more back to her kids, her students, and her school community. Even better, she has been able to unlock even more of her own potential as an educator, mentor, and resource for those around her. Reflecting on the students in her Yoga Club, Ferozah notes that there is a “special connectedness within the Yoga Club, and the students know they can rely on me if they have a problem. Even though most of the members struggle with academics, when doing yoga, they have found self-confidence. It has been an honor to witness this transformation. Yoga has taught them that strength is not determined by your intelligence or body type, it comes from within and yoga has empowered these students to show up and push themselves past their limits.”
It seems that yoga has empowered Ferozah to push herself past her own limits, as well, and we’re excited to see what’s in store as she continues to grow.