Canadian-born educator Heather Morton van Hettema is a business owner turned mother, wife, writer and traveller. To date, she has lived in East Asia, Europe and more recently Northern Africa. As a teacher and student of yoga, Heather founded her own school The Yoga Way, which served the Toronto yoga community for over 15 years. With no prior background in yoga, her experience extends to 23 trips over the last 20 years to India. She studied and trained extensively under Masters of Yoga, Swamis and Gurus throughout India.
On the academic level, she holds a Master of Education degree and is a member of the Ontario College of Teachers.
Becoming known for her teaching, Heather has a rare talent in leading students to the postures as a mental practice. Heather focuses on developing your “personal” practice with an emphasis on the breath. She teaches with technique and intuition, and guides students in understanding all that Yoga can offer.
The Journey of Yoga: Beyond the Posture
Jump start to leaving Canada and in her mid-twenties, Heather began working and living in South Korea. It was in S. Korea where she got into yoga by default teaching children and adults. After returning to Canada, she obtained many Yoga Teacher certifications from the various Sivananda Vedanta Yoga Ashrams.
She made her first solo trip to India in 1999. A momentous experience was in studying directly under K. Pattabhi Jois. Here, Heather sustained an injury and became addicted to the advanced postures. Over the next 12 years, Heather practised the elements of back bends intensely while also seeking the deeper meaning of Yoga. In 2009, she met with the late Swami Veda Bharati in LA and later underwent a silent retreat in Rishikesh. Blessed with his guidance, she received mantra imitation into The Himalayan Tradition of Yoga Meditation that same year.
During the years to follow with a miscarriage, a marriage and the birth of her son in 2013, her practice took many different twists and turns.
For the last 6 years, she studied under Yogacharya Vinay Kumar in Mysore; learning a vinyasa krama system with breath control. Since 2015, her dharma also brought her to the feet of Sri BNS Iyengar, the oldest living nexus within the lineage of Krishnamacharya. She holds several other Yoga certifications of Hatha yoga, pranayama and Prana Vashya Yoga.
Off the Mat
Heather produced one of the first instructional dvds to illustrate the practices of back bending. Since its conception, it has reached students all over the globe. As an author, her 2-year ethnographic project on Yoga for Children is an inspirational work on Yoga and Meditation as a curriculum subject in the Indian school system.
Philanthropy and Teaching
When in India, Heather works with young children to better their education.
Heather teaches private and group classes. She offers structured yoga programs in Hatha Yoga Vinyasa (Prana Vashya) and Pranayama. She is less focused on hard core asanas as she is on breath control, body awareness and relaxation.
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.