Canadian-born educator Heather Morton van Hettema is a former business owner turned mother, wife and writer. With no prior background or inclination toward yoga, her evolution has been unexpected and surprising. Known for her unique style and teaching approach, Heather has a talent in taking students progressively into postures. Her journey of yoga has inspired 19 sojourns over 19 years to India and to make it her life’s dharma. Over these years, she studied and trained under many masters of yoga and spiritual guides, and founded a niche yoga school in the heart of Toronto. Heather places a big emphasis on the power of self-practice, “as the real teacher of yoga is within.”
Beyond the Pose
Flashback to 1999, Heather first travelled alone to India after obtaining yoga certificates from several of the Sivananda Yoga Ashrams. A turning point along her path still rests in studying under K. Pattabhi Jois in Mysore. She learned the primary series of Ashtanga yoga directly from him. Ironically, she grew addicted to the advanced postures while working through an injury and ending a long-term relationship. True to real yoga, however, her inner search led beyond the myth of the ‘perfect’ asana. With each return trip to India, Heather sought teachers who were rooted in meditation. In 2009, she received initiation into The Himalayan Tradition of Yoga Meditation by the late Swami Veda Bharati. To date, she holds many qualifications including a Masters of Education and a Fine Arts degree in theatre. Heather continues to study in India with Yogacharya Vinay Kumar; practicing a Hatha yoga vinyasa system. Her dharma has also landed her at the feet of Shri BNS Iyengar (Guruji), one of the last living masters in the Krishnamacharya lineage. After a miscarriage, a marriage and the birth of her beloved son in 2013, a more balanced lifestyle and practice really began.
Heather is the producer of yoga dvds. Freedom of the Body dvd is one of the first instructional resources to highlight the practices of yoga back bending. Since its conception, it has inspired and reached students on a global level. To her credit, she is the author of an ethnographic research project in India. It focuses on Yoga for Children in the educational system. Heather also self-published, Yoga Essentials: Back Bending Basics, a manual on how to practice back bends.
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.