Canadian-born educator Heather Morton van Hettema is a teacher and business owner turned mother, wife and writer. With no prior inclination toward yoga, her path has been surprising and unexpected. The journey of yoga has inspired Heather to make over 20 sojourns over 20 years to India. Over these years, she studied extensively under many Masters of Yoga and Gurus, and founded a niche yoga school within the heart of Toronto, Canada. Well known for her personal and progressive teaching, Heather has a talent in leading students into the postures as more than a workout. Heather believes in the power of “self-practice” and the lesser known sides of yoga today as “the real teacher.” Students, practitioners and teachers alike have taken her classes not only for the benefits of regular yoga, but in discovering more about themselves.
Finding Real Yoga: More than the pose
Heather made her first solo trip to India in 1999. After having lived in South Korea and obtaining many yoga certificates from the Sivananda Yoga Ashrams, it felt like a natural step to take. A turning point on her path still rests in studying directly under K. Pattabhi Jois in Mysore. Ironically while working through an injury from the practice and ending a long-term relationship, she grew addicted to the advanced yoga poses. But true to real yoga, her search led beyond the snares of the ‘perfect’ asana. With each return visit to India, Heather sought out more meditation teachers. In 2009, after visits to the ashram in Rishikesh and taking a silent retreat, she received personal initiation into The Himalayan Tradition of Yoga Meditation by the late Swami Veda Bharati. Then following a miscarriage, a marriage and the birth of her son in 2013, her practice was evolving through many different approaches of Hatha yoga. Today, Heather continues to travel to India to teach and studies under Yogacharya Vinay Kumar; practicing a vinyasa krama system. Since 2014, her dharma also landed her at the feet of Guruji (BNS Iyengar), the last link and oldest living master within the Krishnamacharya lineage. To date, she holds several yoga qualifications that she achieved along the way including a Masters of Education and Theatre Performance degree.
Yoga in Education
Heather is an author and producer of yoga dvds. Freedom of the Body is one of the first instructional yoga dvds to illustrate the foundational practices of yoga back bending. Since its conception, it has reached yoga students all over the world. To her credit, she is the sole author of a 2-year ethnographic project conducted in South India on Yoga for children and how to teach it in North American schools. Its mandate is to bring Yoga into the classroom as a curriculum subject for spiritual growth.
Heather offers yoga retreats and teaches privately.
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.