Canadian-born educator Heather Morton van Hettema is a business owner turned mother, wife and writer. To date, she has resided in countries within South East Asia, Europe and more recently Northern Africa. As an educator, yoga practitioner and teacher, Heather founded The Yoga Way school, which served the Toronto community for over 15 years in Yorkville. With no prior background in yoga, her evolution has been unexpected as her original aspirations were far removed from education and teaching. Her journey of yoga includes over 23 trips over the last 20 years to Mother India. During the early years, she trained and studied extensively under Swamis, Yoga Masters and Gurus at ashrams while developing her niche yoga school. Becoming known for her personal teaching style, Heather has a talent for leading students into the postures as much more than a work-out. Heather places a bigger emphasis on “self-practice” and the less fashionable sides of yoga as a way to find your “inner teacher.” She teaches with technique and intuition. But namely at the heart and soul of it, she guides students in how to develop a practice and to benefit from all that Yoga is.
Discovering Yoga: Beyond the Pose
Jump start to leaving Canada and in her mid-twenties, Heather began living and working in South Korea. It was in Korea that she got into yoga by default; beginning to teach and travel more. After obtaining many Yoga teaching certifications from the Sivananda Vedanta Yoga Ashrams, she made her first solo trip to India in 1999. Along the path, a pivotal moment still lies in studying directly under K. Pattabhi Jois in Mysore. This experience brought her an injury while also becoming addicted to the postures and particularly of back bending. With each return sojourn to India, Heather sought out and studied under several meditation teachers, seeking the deeper meaning of Yoga. In 2009, she began studying under the late Swami Veda Bharati and underwent a silent retreat in Rishikesh whereby receiving her initiation into The Himalayan Tradition of Yoga Meditation. During the years to follow with a miscarriage, a marriage and the birth of her son in 2013, her practice took many twists and turns. Today, she travels annually to India and trains with Yogacharya Vinay Kumar; practising a vinyasa krama system. Since 2014, her dharma also brought her to the feet of Sri BNS Iyengar (Guruji). He is the oldest living nexus in the Krishnamacharya lineage. She holds several other Yoga teaching certificates including of pranayama and a Master of Education degree.
Off the Mat
As a writer and producer, Heather created 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 a published author, her 2-year ethnographic project has been a resource for educators and teachers alike. Conducted in India, it focuses on Yoga and Meditation as a curriculum subject in school. When in India, Heather works with children from underprivileged families in speaking English.
Heather offers private classes, retreats and workshops.
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.