Canadian-born educator Heather Morton van Hettema is a business owner turned mother, wife and traveller. As a committed teacher and student of yoga, Heather founded her own school The Yoga Way, which served the Toronto yoga community for over 15 successful years. With no prior background in yoga, her experience extends to 23 trips over the last 20 years to India. She has studied and trained extensively under Yoga Masters, Swamis and Gurus in India. To date, she has also lived in East Asia, Europe and recently, Tunisia, Africa. Her travels alone have taken her through East Asia, to the DMZ and a lot of India.
Academically, she holds a Master of Education and a Fine Arts Special Honours Degree, and is a member of the Ontario College of Teachers.
Becoming known for her teaching style, Heather has a rare talent in leading students into a posture as a mental practice. Heather believes in honing your “personal”, at-home practice with an emphasis on the breath. She teaches with both technique and intuition.
Beyond the Posture
Jump start to leaving Canada and in her mid-twenties, Heather began working and living in Seoul, 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 Sivananda Vedanta Yoga Ashrams in California, Quebec and Kerala.
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 back bends of yoga while seeking for the deeper meaning of yoga. In 2009, she met the late Swami Veda Bharati in L.A. and underwent silent retreats in Rishikesh. With his blessing, she was initiated into The Himalayan Tradition of Yoga Meditation.
During the years to follow after a miscarriage, a marriage and the birth of her son in 2013, her practice took many twists and turns.
Over the last 6 years, she has studied under Yogacharya Vinay Kumar in Mysore; learning a Vinyasa Krama System with breath control. In 2015, her dharma also brought her to the feet of Sri BNS Iyengar, the oldest living nexus in the Ashtanga Vinyasa lineage and a direct student of T. Krishnamacharya. She holds several other Yoga certifications of Hatha yoga, Prana Vashya Yoga and Pranayama.
Off the Mat
Heather produced the first instructional Yoga DVDs on 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 Life
When in India, Heather works with young children to better their education.
Heather teaches private and group classes in structured yoga programs of Pranayama and Prana Vashya Yoga. She is less focused on hard core asanas and more on breath control, conditioning and a yogic lifestyle. Meanwhile, she is raising her 6-year old 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.