Born and raised in Toronto, Canada, Heather (Morton) van Hettema is a small business owner, entrepreneur and certified Yoga teacher. Her roles today also include Yoga educator, mother, wife, writer and traveller. As a committed student, Heather founded her own school The Yoga Way, a niche studio in the heart of Yorkville. It served the Toronto yoga community for 15 successful years. With no prior background of yoga, her vast experiences extend to having made 22 trips over the last 20 years to India where she studies and trains under Yoga Masters, teachers, Swamis and her Guru. Taking her passion for travel to the next level she has lived in East Asia, Europe and Northern Africa.
Academically, Heather holds a Master of Education (M.Ed.), a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) and a Fine Arts degree in Theatre Performance (B.F.A.). Her post-graduate research included a thesis on Yoga for Children and as a subject in school. Heather has also taught Drama and English in the private school sector, and is a member of the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT).
Known for her teaching style, Heather has a rare talent in leading students into a posture as a mental and spiritual practice (not as mere exercise). Having overcome an eating disorder, an injury from a car accident, a miscarriage and ending a long-term relationship, she treats Yoga as a healing balm for life. Classes with Heather aim to help you reach your optimal health and in realizing your spirituality. Her teaching is both intuitive and technical.
Finding Yoga: More than a Pose
Having made what appeared as a successful foot into the modeling 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 taught yoga to adults and children. Upon her return to Canada, she lived at the Sivananda Yoga Ashrams and completed the TTC, ATTC & the Sadhana Intensive programs. The latter included 6 hours of daily pranayama.
In 1999, she made her first trip to India. A turning point was in studying directly under Pattabhi Jois in Mysore. But having endured a knee injury in the practice, Heather began seeking other practices and teachers in search of more balance. For over 13 years, she studied backbending yoga in Mysore and earned multiple certifications. In 2009, she then met the late Swami Veda Bharati and engaged in silent retreats in Rishikesh. With his blessings, she was initiated into The Himalayan Tradition of Yoga Meditation.
Over the years, from a miscarriage to marriage and the birth of her son, her practice has taken many twists and turns.
Going full circle, she has studied for the last 8 years under Vinay-ji Kumar in Mysore; practising a Vinyasa Krama system. In 2015, her dharma landed her at the feet of Shri BNS Iyengar; the oldest living nexus in the Ashtanga Yoga Vinyasa lineage and a disciple of T. Krishnamacharya.
To date, she holds certifications in Pranayama (2016, 2017, 2018) given by BNS Iyengar, 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 for children in education.
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 Hatha Yoga, Heather developed online programs for all levels in 2013. With a strong ability to teach the estoeric concepts of Yoga as a lifestyle, these courses support her students’ spiritual development, personal goals and greater health. As a loving mother, she is raising her 7-year old 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.