Canadian-born Heather Morton van Hettema is a small business owner and teacher turned educator, mother, wife, writer and traveller. As both a committed teacher and student, Heather founded her own school The Yoga Way; serving the community of Toronto for over 15 successful years. With no prior background in yoga, her experiences extend to making 22 trips over the last 22 years to India where she studies and trains under Yoga Masters and Gurus in India. Heather is a certified Yoga teacher holding a multitude of certificates. She has also lived in East Asia, Europe and Northern Africa. As a solo traveller she ventured throughout Asia to the DMZ and much of Mother India.
Academically, Heather holds a Master of Education (M.Ed.) and a Fine Arts Special Degree (B.F.A. Hons.). She is a member of the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT).
Becoming known for her teaching style, Heather has a rare talent in leading students into a pose as a mental and spiritual practice. Studying with Heather is like a full experience in breath, body awareness and spirituality. Her teaching is a blend of intuition and technique.
Finding Yoga: A Teacher’s Path
Jump start to leaving Canada, Heather began living and working in South Korea. While in Seoul she got into yoga by default and began teaching children and adults. Upon her return to Canada, she obtained yoga teaching certifications (TTC, ATTC & Sadhana Intensive) at the Sivananda Vedanta Yoga Ashrams. From the start, pranyama was a thread woven into Heather’s practice and teaching.
In 1999, she made her first solo trip to India. A turning point lay in studying directly under K. Pattabhi Jois in Mysore. Having suffered an injury and feeling yoga was more than an asana, Heather explored other traditional practices. Over the next 13 years, she practiced backbending yoga in Mysore. In 2009, she met the late Swami Veda Bharati. After undergoing silent retreats in Rishikesh and with his blessing, she was initiated into The Himalayan Tradition of Yoga Meditation.
Over the years to follow with a miscarriage, a marriage and the birth of her son, her practice took many twists and turns.
For the past 7 years, she has been studying under Vinay Kumar in Mysore; practising a Vinyasa Krama System. In 2015, her dharma brought her to the feet of Shri BNS Iyengar; the oldest living nexus within the Ashtanga Yoga Vinyasa lineage and a student of the legendary T. Krishnamacharya.
To date, she holds certificates in Ayurveda (2014), Prana Vashya Yoga (2018) and Pranayama (2015, 2016, 2017, 2019).
Off the Mat
Heather produced one of the first instructional dvds on yoga backbends. It has continued to reach students all over the globe. She also created meditation cds, a backbending manual and a yoga teacher training handbook. As an author, her 2-year ethnographic research project on Yoga for Children is an inspirational work on Yoga as a mandatory subject in the curriculum.
Philanthropy & Life
When in India, Heather works with children to better their education; a passion of her’s since 2004.
Heather teaches privately and group classes in courses for authentic Pranayama and Hatha Yoga. Her online teaching programs began in 2012. Meanwhile, she is raising her little boy to explore the world with open eyes.
Without any formal training, I rented a space in a Lutheran church in Seoul to teach yoga. What lead me to do this is a mystery. I thought teaching yoga might be a good way to get into shape, become healthy and answer some of my deeper questions. I generally approached yoga from the stand-point of, “Let’s get a good workout”.
Described as the ‘real deal’ by the Toronto Life magazine, Heather founded The Yoga Way school to provide structured classes and more intimate teaching. Not offering drop-ins was the premise in helping students build a self-practice of yoga.