Residential Karma Yoga Program
LIVE, WORK & LEARN IN A COMMUNITY OF PRACTICE
PLEASE NOTE: The Centre is still currently closed to residential programs. Sign up to receive information and updates about when residential retreats will be open again.
Our Residential Karma Yoga Program is for those interested in living and working at SSCY while learning and practicing the many paths of yoga. It includes hands-on service (work) in our retreat centre and organic farm, classes on the theory and practice of yoga, and other topics relevant to the life of the Centre, as well as communal sharing circles and opportunities to participate in yogic rituals and celebrations that we observe throughout the year.
The program runs in 10-week sessions, with one beginning in April, one beginning in June, and one beginning in September. We ask participants to live and work at the Centre for the entire 10 weeks, and to commit to 24 hours of work-service per week, plus 7 hours of classes and meetings per week.
At the end of the 10-week session, participants can apply to stay on for an additional session, as a next step toward becoming a long-term resident of the Centre.
At the core of our program is the practice of karma yoga, literally ‘the yoga of action.’ In karma yoga, one attempts to perform one’s work in the world without attachment, in the spirit of selfless service. In this way, one acts to benefit the world around them while also lessening the attachment and egotism that impede lasting peace.
While most any action done without selfishness or attachment can be karma yoga, we at the Centre focus our efforts on providing a sanctuary for healing and spiritual practice, and on taking care of the land on which we live through responsible agricultural and resource management practices.
In the day to day life of participants in our karma yoga program, this can mean working in our kitchen to prepare nourishing meals for our guests and residents, keeping our guest rooms and event spaces clean and beautiful, maintaining our vehicles, equipment, and buildings, and growing delicious and wholesome food on our farm, plus a whole lot more. For more information, please visit our Residential Community page.
Our Residential Karma Yoga Program also includes instruction in the traditional practices of yoga, with the aim of helping participants develop their own spiritual practice, or sādhana. To this end, the program includes weekly theory classes on some of the many paths of yoga. In these classes, participants will explore topics from classical yoga texts like the Bhagavad-Gītā, the Yoga-Sūtra, and the Haṭhayoga-Pradīpikā, as well as related subjects like basic Sanskrit, yoga’s approach to ethical living, and Āyurveda, the traditional Indian system of medicine.
The first 3 weeks of this program includes a daily focused morning practice of prāṇāyāma (traditional yogic breathing exercises) and meditation to learn the foundations. The following 7 weeks will include focused morning practices a minimum of 3 times each week, allowing the opportunity for self practice on the other mornings. Residents can also attend the Centre’s public yoga asana classes as part of their program, as their work commitments allow.
Perhaps the most powerful component of being a karma yogi at the Centre is the chance to live, work, play, and practice as part of a community of fellow seekers and practitioners. In this way, participants in the program have the chance to experience satsang, or being in the company (-sang) of those seeking spiritual truth (sat-). This allows yoga to be a journey that’s shared among fellow travellers who support and learn from one another, rather than just a private, individual undertaking.
In many ways, the experience of satsang permeates all that residents do here. In a more focused, intentional way, however, weekly community circles provide residents with a chance to share their own experiences, and listen to and support fellow residents as they do the same. These circles can also be a time for planning and constructive problem-solving as a group.
Also, many of our regularly occurring theory classes are determined by the interests and desires of the resident community, and these can provide opportunities to explore ideas and practices related to living in community.
THE PROGRAM AT A GLANCE
We ask participants in our resident karma yoga program to commit to the following each week:
- 20 hours of work in the Centre’s daily operation
- Daily 60-minute prāṇāyāma and meditation classes for the first 3 weeks, with two classes weekly thereafter
- Two 75-minute yoga theory classes
- One 90-minute community circle
- Two 30-minute staff meetings
- Accommodation in our forested, well-maintained campground
- Two hot vegetarian meals per day and self-serve breakfast.
- Access to ongoing public yoga classes at the Centre.
- Chances to participate in weekly gatherings for kirtan and satsang, as well as traditional rituals like āratī and yajña.
- On-site laundry facilities
- WiFi connection and desktop computer and printer access in our designated karma yogi common space
- Access to a communal kitchen reserved for residents to prepare their own food in keeping with the Centre’s lacto-vegetarian diet
- Time to explore the unique and beautiful environs of Salt Spring Island.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who should apply?
- Those who wish to contribute their skills, efforts and/or expertise to a not-for profit organization.
- Those wanting to begin, renew or deepen their spiritual practice and understanding of the classical teachings of 8-limbed Ashtanga and Hatha Yoga.
- Those wishing to experience the benefits of living, working and studying together in a spiritually based community.
- Those who will commit to abide by the Centre Guidelines for residents of the Centre, including the practice of vegetarianism and a drug- and alcohol-free lifestyle.
- Those who may want to take a yoga teacher training program in the future and would like to have a strong foundation prior to that training.
- Those who are unable or not interested in taking a yoga teacher training but would like a more in-depth understanding of the yogic path.
- Those who are able to commit to the complete 10-week Residential Karma Yoga Program.
The Centre is not a place for rehabilitation or recovery and is not the right environment for those seeking a therapeutic or rehabilitative program. The endeavors of our community keep us very busy and they require enthusiasm and hard work.
We can accept singles or couples but we are unable to accommodate children.
Who attends this program?
- People of all ages, from all walks of life and from many different countries come for our Residential Karma Yoga Program, and all are welcome.
- Most people that attend wish to strengthen their yoga practice. Some come with little to no experience with yoga while others may have many years of training.
- People that wish to experience living in a working yoga community
- People with a desire to selflessly contribute their skills and life energy to the Mission of the Centre.
What kind of work will I be doing?
You will be scheduled for approximately 24 hours each week. Your work shifts will be focused within one or two of the following areas:
If you have a special skill to contribute, such as building, renovation, vehicle maintenance, plumbing, information technology, etc., you may be asked to focus your time in that area. Our needs vary with the time of year and the type of programs we are hosting. An orientation in all areas will be given at the start of your stay. Further training will be provided based on your area of focus.
In addition to your work hours, there are an additional 7 hours each week devoted to furthering your understanding of yoga and community development.
How many yoga asana (postures) classes will I be able to attend each week?
There are morning, afternoon and some evening classes at the Centre that are available on a drop-in basis. The number of classes you are able to attend will vary depending on your daily work shifts.
Are participants given consistent days off?
You will generally have two full days off per week from service hours, but it is not always possible for those to fall on the same days each week, depending on the needs of the Centre. Program aspects, such as sadhana, theory classes or community circle attendance is still required on your days off.
What should I bring?
Please refer to our What to Bring document.
Do I need a car?
No, but you are welcome to bring a car to the Centre. Your vehicle will need to be logged in with our office and you will need to provide proof of registration and insurance.
The Centre is a scenic 40-60 minute walk to the island’s main town, Ganges. There is an island bus service, approximately a 10-15 minute walk away. We also find it quite common for residents to carpool for outings.
Additionally, we have a bike rack for those residents who wish to bring their bicycles. You must bring your own lock and helmet.
Will I have Internet access?
Yes. We have high-speed internet with a communal desktop computer available for residents to use. Some people choose to bring their own laptops as wireless internet access is available within our main program building.
As a courtesy to guests and other residents, use of laptops or cellphones is not allowed in the dining area.
Can I make phone calls and receive messages?
Yes. At the orientation you will be shown the location of the residents’ telephone. Messages can be left for you at that number. Calls throughout Canada and the United States are free to residents; you will need a phone card for other long distance destinations. Cell phone service is unreliable at the Centre but service can be accessed in Ganges and other parts of the island. Cell phones that have WiFi calling available can use this function where WiFi is available in the main program house.
Can you tell me what to expect in regard to the food served at the Centre?
Two hot meals (lunch and dinner) are served each day. In addition, a variety of fixings available in the resident community kitchen for a self-serve breakfast. When there are no programs running, meal times are 12:30 pm and 6:00 pm. During programs, a full breakfast may be served and residents share in this meal with the program participants. During programs, meal times may sometimes be adjusted.
Our diet is lacto-vegetarian, which does not include meat, fish or eggs. As practicing yogis, we do not cook or serve garlic or most onions, as they can over-stimulate the mind. While gluten-free and dairy-free/vegan options are available at all meals, those with serious food allergies should consult with us before committing to the Residential Karma Yoga Program. Where possible, most of our produce comes directly from our organic farm.
The Centre has a reputation for high-quality, nutritious, well-balanced and tasty cuisine.
How do I get to the Centre?
We have posted detailed directions on our Getting Here page.
Is there anything else I should know about?
Please read our Centre Guidelines for more information about what to expect at the Centre.