Volunteers / Karma Yoga

The Karma Yoga Retreat Programme

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The Karma Yoga Retreat Program is designed to offer an opportunity for individuals to enter an ashram environment, to live for a week or two within our structure, and to participate in morning spiritual practice, karma yoga (working contemplation), and some evening programs to get a feel for the way of life. The program is intended for those who are interested in ashram life and want to use the stay as a retreat and take time for internal focus and deepening spiritual practice.

During this time you will be given a general orientation toward the principles of ashram life, spiritual practice, bhakti yoga, karma yoga, communal living, and prasadam (blessed food) preparation. The duration of this program is 1 or 2 weeks. It costs only £65 per week, which includes accommodation, food, instruction, and all programs and facilities. Karma Yoga is 4 hours per day plus lunch preparation on this program. Participation is available every week throughout the year, space permitting.

Working as a part of the Karma Yoga Retreat Program is an educational experience, and provides an opportunity for you to be in retreat, and at the same time to experience the benefits of living within a spiritually focused community, to develop your spiritual practice within a structure alongside others, and to be yourself in a place which is open and supportive of that. This program provides a place to set yourself and your preferences aside for a while and practice Karma Yoga (selfless service), to deepen in self-discovery and become inspired to live a more spiritually fulfilling life. What you receive from being here will be directly reflective of what you give.

It is a good idea to read our principles which underline the fundamentals of what we are committed to.

Commitment

Please note: We have a 10pm curfew, and that non-vegetarian foods, smoking, alcohol and caffeine are not permitted on our premises, nor illegal drugs. The ashram respects the precept of ahimsa (non-violence) and therefore adheres strictly to a vegan diet. In addition we do not use sugar or honey as sweeteners, instead we use sweet fruits as an alternative in our food preparation. Please always respect the ashram rules and boundaries and do your best to work within the structure provided.

With participation in this program, you are committing to participate in our day structure including morning program, staff meeting, and 4.5h of work a day (morning or afternoon, depending on the daily requirements).

Work is physical work of cleaning, changing beds, cooking, gardening, and other tasks around the house. Please note that especially in high season, our shifts can be very intense an demanding physically. Also, our morning program includes 90 minutes of sitting (various options of seats available). Please understand that if you have any physical restrictions that will not allow you to fully participate in our program, it is better to let us know beforehand so we can discuss possible adaptions or advise if we think the program might be too much of a strain for you.

Spiritual Practice

We meet as a community for arati, satsang and kirtan (devotional ceremony, short talk related to bhakti yoga philosophy and singing) at 7.00 – 8.00 am and meditation at 8.00 am in the morning until 8.30 am, after which we have breakfast. As a commitment to the program, all karma yogis are minimally expected to attend between 8.00am – 8.30am, but are in general encouraged to participate from 7.00am as participation in this will give a deeper understanding of ashram life and bring participants into harmony with the overall atmosphere of the ashram and provide spiritual benefit. This practice sets a contemplative mood for the day conducive to karma yoga. The meditation room may be used before 7.00am for individual practice such as asana based yoga, chi gung etc.  We also have Mangala Arati at 5.00am – 6.00am on Monday – Fridays.

Availability

We have space for two people per week on the Karma Yoga Retreat Program. It is recommended to book well in advance to reserve your space. If you would like to come as a karma yogi, please download the following link: KarmaYogaExchangeProgramme  and return the form to Prema Lakshmi at info [at] shekinashram.org