Canadian-born educator Heather Morton van Hettema is a business owner and teacher turned educator, mother and wife. As a committed teacher and student, Heather founded her own school The Yoga Way; serving the Toronto Yoga community for over 15 successful years. With no prior background in yoga, her experiences extend to 22 trips over the last 22 years to India. She studies and trains extensively under Yoga Masters and Gurus in India. She has also lived in East Asia, Europe and Africa. As a single woman her love for travel has taken her throughout Asia to the DMZ and much of India.
Academically, Heather holds a Master of Education (M.Ed.) and a Fine Arts Special Honours Degree (B.F.A.), and is a member of the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT).
Becoming known for her teaching style, Heather has a talent in leading students into a posture as a mental practice. Heather believes the root of practice is within the breath and self-practice. Her teaching is a blend of both technique and intuition.
Beyond the Postures
Jump start to leaving Canada and in her mid-twenties, 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 many teaching certifications (TTC, ATTC & Sadhana Intensive) at the Sivananda Vedanta Yoga Ashrams in the US, Canada and India. From the start, pranyama was a thread woven into Heather’s practice with 6-7 hours of daily training at the ashrams in India.
In 1999, she made her first solo trip to India. A turning point still rests in studying directly under K. Pattabhi Jois in Mysore. During her practice, Heather sustained an injury and became addicted to the advanced poses. Over the next 13 years, she moved on to explore and practice backbending yoga in Mysore. In 2009, she began seeking the deeper purpose beyond the postures and met the late Swami Veda Bharati. After undergoing silent retreats in Rishikesh and with his blessing, she was personally initiated into The Himalayan Tradition of Yoga Meditation.
Over the years to follow after a miscarriage, a marriage and the birth of her son, her practice took on many twists and turns.
For the last 7 years, she has been studying under Vinay Kumar in Mysore; practising a Vinyasa Krama System. In 2015, her dharma also 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 several other certificates including of Ayurveda (2014), Prana Vashya Yoga (2018) and Pranayama (2015 – 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 2 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 curriculum subject in school.
Philanthropy & Life
When in India, Heather works with children to better their education; a passion of her’s since 2004.
Heather teaches private and group classes in Yoga Programs for Pranayama and Hatha Yoga. Her online courses began in 2012. Today, she is less focused on hard core asanas and more on the breath. 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.