Canadian-born Heather Morton van Hettema is a business owner and founding teacher turned educator, mother, wife, writer and traveller. As both 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 making 22 trips over the last 22 years to India where she studies and trains under Yoga Masters and Gurus in India. Heather is a certified Yoga teacher holding a multitude of certificates. She has also lived in East Asia, Europe and Northern Africa. As a solo traveller she ventured throughout Asia to the DMZ and a lot of India.
Academically, Heather holds a Master of Education (M.Ed.), a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.,) and a Fine Arts Special Degree (B.F.A. Hons.). She is a member of the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT).
Becoming known for her teaching style, Heather has a rare talent in leading students into a pose as a mental and spiritual practice. Studying with Heather is a holistic experience in breath, body, spirituality and self development. Her teaching is a blend of both a high level of intuition and instinct as well as technique.
Finding Yoga: A Teacher’s Path
Jump start to leaving Canada, Heather began living and working in South Korea. While in Seoul she got into yoga by default and taught it to children and adults. Upon her return to Canada, she obtained many yoga teaching certifications (TTC, ATTC & the Sadhana Intensive) at the Sivananda Vedanta Yoga Ashrams. After spending much time in ashrams, her practice was shaped to include mantra meditation and pranayama during these early experiences.
In 1999, she made her first solo trip to India. A turning point lay in studying directly under K. Pattabhi Jois in Mysore. Having suffered an injury and feeling yoga was more than only Ashtanga Yoga, Heather explored other traditional practices. Over the next 13 years, she practiced backbending yoga in Mysore. Then in 2009, she met the late Swami Veda Bharati. By undergoing silent retreats in Rishikesh and with his blessing, she was initiated into The Himalayan Tradition of Yoga Meditation.
Over the years to follow with a miscarriage, marriage and the birth of her son, her practice took many twists and turns.
For the past 7 years, she has been studying under Vinay Kumar in Mysore; practising a Vinyasa Krama System. In 2015, her dharma 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 certificates in Ayurveda (2014), Prana Vashya Yoga (2018) and Pranayama (2015, 2016, 2017, 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 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 mandatory subject in education.
Philanthropy & Life
When in India, Heather works with children to improve their quality of schooling — a passion of her’s since 2004.
Heather teaches privately and offers group classes and courses in traditional Pranayama and Hatha Yoga with a modern day twist that helps develop her students spirituality, and health. Her online teaching programs began in 2012. Meanwhile, as a mother 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.