Canadian-born Heather Morton van Hettema is a certified yoga teacher and business owner turned educator, mother, wife, writer and traveller. As both a committed teacher and student, Heather founded The Yoga Way school; 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 2 decades to India where she studies and trains under her Guru and Yoga Masters. Her spirit for learning has also taken Heather to living in East Asia, Europe and North Africa. As a solo traveller, she has travelled extensively within Canada, Asia, Europe and India.
Academically, Heather holds a Master of Education (M.Ed.) and a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.). Her post-graduate work was focused on Yoga in education with a thesis on Yoga as a curriculum subject. Her initial degree, however, was a far cry from this as she embarked on an acting career with a Fine Arts Degree (B.F.A.) in Theatre Performance. In the private school sector, she has taught Drama and English, and been a member of the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) since 2001.
Becoming known for her teaching style, Heather has a rare talent in leading students into a pose as a mental practice. Yoga with Heather is beyond mere exercise but of the breath and spirituality. Her teaching is a blend of intuition and technique.
Finding Yoga: A Teacher’s Path
Having made what like a successful step into the modeling and acting world, Heather changed gears to heal her life. Jump start to leaving Canada and with a paperback book on Yoga therapy in her bag, she lived and worked in South Korea for 2 years. In Korea, she started to teach yoga and breathing to adults and children. Upon her return to Canada, she obtained several teaching certificates (TTC, ATTC & the Sadhana Intensive) from the Sivananda Vedanta Yoga Ashrams.
In 1999, she made her first trip to India. A turning point was in studying directly under K. Pattabhi Jois in Mysore. But with a knee injury and the feeling of yoga being more than vinyasas, Heather sought out other teachers and practices. For the next 13 years, she practiced backbending yoga in Mysore and completing more teaching certificates. In 2009, she met the late Swami Veda Bharati and after silent retreats in Rishikesh was initiated with his blessing into The Himalayan Tradition of Yoga Meditation.
In subsequent years, from a miscarriage to marriage and the birth of her son, her practice took many twists and turns.
Going full circle, she has studied for the last 7 years 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 in the Ashtanga Yoga Vinyasa lineage and a student of the legendary T. Krishnamacharya.
To date, she holds certificates in Pranayama (2018, 2017 & 2016), Prana Vashya Yoga (2019) and Ayurveda (2014).
Off the Mat
Heather produced one of the first instructional dvds on the backbends of yoga. 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 a published author, her ethnographic research project is an inspirational work on Yoga as a curriculum subject in school.
Philanthropy & Life
When in India, Heather works with children to improve their quality of education — a passion of her’s since 2004.
Offering group and private courses in traditional Pranayama and Hatha Yoga, Heather developed her online teaching in 2012. With the ability to teach the abstract concepts as a liveable philosopy, her courses support spiritual development and health. As a mother, she is raising her 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.