Residential Karma Yoga Program


Our Residential Karma Yoga Program is for those interested in living and working at SSCY while also learning and practicing the many paths of yoga. It includes hands-on service 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 some of the rituals and celebrations that we observe throughout the year.

The program runs in 10-week sessions, with one beginning in April and one beginning in June. We ask participants to live and work at the Centre for the entire 10 weeks, and to commit to 20 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.



Applications are now closed for the 2019 Residential Karma Yoga Program. Check back in late Fall for more details about the 2020 KY program.


$ 1,155 for camping (subject to change)

$ 700 for previous YSSI participants (subject to change)



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 Community Teams 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 program also includes twice weekly instruction in āsana (postures), prāṇāyāma (traditional yogic breathing exercises), and meditation, as well as the opportunity to attend the Centre’s ongoing public yoga classes free of charge as one’s 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.


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
  • Two 75-minute theory classes
  • Two 60-minute prāṇāyāma and meditation classes
  • One 90-minute community circle
  • Two 30-minute staff meetings

In addition, participants in the program are provided with:

  • Accommodation in our forested, well-maintained campground
  • Continental breakfast and two hot vegetarian meals per day
  • Access to ongoing public yoga classes at the Centre, as well as twice weekly early morning āsana classes reserved for Centre residents.
  • 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 staff 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, as well as other Gulf Islands and nearby cities like Victoria and Vancouver.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who should apply?

  • 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 20 hours each week.  Your work shifts will be focused within one or two of the following areas:

  • Landscaping
  • Housekeeping
  • Kitchen
  • Maintenance
  • Office

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, but it is not always possible for those to fall on the same days each week, depending on the needs of the Centre.

What should I bring?

Please refer to our What to Bring worksheet

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 minute walk to the island’s main town, Ganges.  There is an island bus service, approximately a 10 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 two communal desktop computers 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.

Where can I receive mail?

Our mailing address is:

355 Blackburn Road
Salt Spring Island, British Columbia
V8K 2B8

Incoming mail will be placed in a box set up for Residential Karma Yoga participants, while outgoing mail can be left in our main office, where stamps are provided.

Can you tell me what to expect in regard to the food served at the Centre?

Two hot meals (lunch and dinner), as well as a continental breakfast are served each day.  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 are welcome to 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 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.

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