Heather Gunn McQuillan is the owner of Nature Space Yoga. She is a certified RYT 200hr Yoga Alliance Teacher. Under the tutelage of Jenny Kierstead, Blair Abass, and several other amazing instructors, she participated in the Breathing Space Yoga Teacher Training Program, graduating in May 2018. Heather has actively practiced yoga since 2009, is trained in Mindfulness Meditation (MBSR graduate), and has practiced meditation since 2013. She is also certified as a meditation instructor through Lifestyle Meditation. Heather’s students regularly comment on the soothing quality of her “yoga voice,” and she credits this to years of classical vocal training as an opera singer. While she is relatively new to yoga instruction, she is a seasoned teacher. Heather is a veterinarian and has been teaching vet students at the Atlantic Veterinary College since 2010. Heather was drawn to becoming a yoga teacher to further her own practice and to share the gifts of yoga and mindfulness. Spurred to action by the crisis in veterinary wellness (veterinarians have suicide rates nearly 4 times higher than the general population and twice as high as other healthcare professions, including doctors and dentists)* she wanted to improve and promote wellness both within and outside of the veterinary college. She is deeply committed to life-long learning, and has advanced training and certifications in leadership, communication, and wellness. Heather also holds certifications in Stand-Up Paddleboard (SUP) and Sea Kayaking through Paddle Canada.
Heather’s Degrees & Certifications
- BSc & DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine)
- Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT-200) (Yoga Alliance & Breathing Space Yoga)
- Chair Yoga Certification (Breathing Space Yoga 14h)
- Mindfulness in Schools Certification (Breathing Space Yoga 100h)
- Yin Yoga (Breathing Space Yoga 14h)
- Yoga Nidra (Maritime Yoga College 30h)
- Certified Meditation Instructor (Lifestyle Meditation 25h)
- Indian Head Massage Certification (Stride)
- Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Graduate
- Mental Health First Aid Certification
- ASIST Suicide Intervention Certification
- Numerous Leadership, Communication & Conflict Resolution Certifications
- AAVMC Leadership Academy Graduate
- CVMA Emerging Leaders Program
- Leading with Integrity Certification
- Mindful Leadership Program
- Strength Deployment Inventory (SDI) Facilitator
- Interest-Based Mediation Training
- Institute of Healthcare Communications Graduate
- UPEI HR Management Training (Diversity & Inclusion, Cultural Competency, Performance Management, Providing Feedback, Having Tough Conversations)
- Paddle Canada Advanced Flat Water Stand Up Paddleboard Certification
- Paddle Canada Basic Kayak Skills Certification
About Nature Space
Nature Space was inspired by Heather’s deep love of nature and the interconnectedness that she feels to all living things. She lives in beautiful Morell, PEI with her husband, Jarrod, and their two children.
“Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.” ~ John Muir
What is Eco-Yoga?
Eco-yoga is the term used for yoga practices that take place in nature. In our frantic-paced, stress-filled world we often lose our connection to our natural environment and forget to take time to take it all in. As a society, we are experiencing symptoms of Nature-Deficit Disorder, which include stress, depression, and insomnia. Spending time in nature helps bring the body and mind back in balance. Recent research has shown that Shinrin-yoku (Japanese Forest Bathing) reduces the stress hormone, cortisol, lowers heart rate and blood pressure, improves immune functions, and reduces sympathetic nerve activity (the fight/flight/freeze response to stress). Nature therapy has long-term effects (immune system benefits maintained for 1 month even after returning to urban life), is effective in battling techno-stress, and may play an increasingly important role in preventive medicine.*
Nature is an integral part of yoga practice, and when made the focal point of the class, it further accentuates those benefits of being in nature. Nature Space classes focus on the natural elements of earth, wind, fire, water, and space all while being practiced in and surrounded by the great outdoors. These elements can deepen our practice. A breeze can focus your breath, the heat of the sun warms your muscles, and the sound of birds and the sight of a ladybug crossing your mat reminds you of being in the present moment. Even annoyances like the buzz of mosquitoes or a passing rain cloud remind us to confront ourselves completely and freely, and to embrace impermanence. This allows us to accept change and turn to our senses, trusting that we will be given the information we need. Nature reminds us that we are more than this body or this mind – that we are connected to all living things and that we are whole.
“Yoga means ‘union,’ and when it’s practiced outdoors it seems like the union with nature, humanity, and the universe is truly felt.” ~Hilary Kimblin
- Suicide in veterinary medicine: Let’s talk about it.
- The physiological effects of Shinrin-yoku (taking in the forest atmosphere or forest bathing): evidence from field experiments in 24 forests across Japan.
- Shinrin-Yoku (Forest Bathing) and Nature Therapy: A State-of-the-Art Review.
- Physiological Effects of Nature Therapy: A Review of the Research in Japan.
- Forest medicine research in Japan.
- Preventive medical effects of nature therapy.