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14 Days Ananda's Karma Yoga Ashram Program Year Round in California, USA

The Expanding Light, 14618 Tyler Foote Road, Nevada City, California 95959, United States

USA Yoga Retreat

Experience a deeper connection with your Divine Potential through selfless-service in Ananda’s Karma Yoga Ashram Program. The program brings a balance between spiritual seeking and daily activities. Serving with like-minded friends within a spiritual environment transforms your lives, bringing joy into everything you do and awakening your soul consciousness. Please click on the link provided on this page to learn more details about this program. You will be working at The Expanding Light Retreat is part of Ananda Village which is a 50 year old cooperative yoga and meditation community based on the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda.


  • Energization exercises and meditation
  • Twice-daily sadhanas, incorporating Ananda Yoga
  • Yoga philosophy comprehensive and personalized Raja Yoga curriculum
  • Participate in daily discussion groups, learning real-life skills
  • Discover the joy of living for others through selfless-service
  • Learn to live more completely in the present moment
  • 13 nights accommodation
  • Daily healthy meals

Yoga styles

13 days with instruction in English
Spoken languages: English
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Seva House

Seva House will be your place of residence during your stay. Located at The Expanding Light Retreat, Seva House sits right in the heart of your daily surroundings and illustrates community living. In Seva House, there are eight bedrooms with two twin beds each; six of these shared bedrooms are equipped with bunkbeds. During your stay, your room may be shared with another Karma Yogi of the same gender.


From May-October, you have the option of bringing your personal tent to camp in during your stay. Our designated camping location is situated right next to Seva House.

In Ananda's Karma Yoga Ashram Program, individuals help to keep The Expanding Light Retreat running smoothly. Karma Yogis are valued and indispensable members of our staff. Throughout your stay, you will be serving in the following areas:

  • Housekeeping
  • Dishwashing
  • Cleaning the dining room
  • Cleaning the kitchen
  • Serving with the maintenance department
  • Assisting the chefs in the vegetarian kitchen


About the Karma Yoga Program

As a Karma Yogi, you contribute to the positive and uplifting environment at The Expanding Light Retreat at Ananda Village. The energy and enthusiasm that you bring help to maintain the high vibration and spiritual focus that your retreat embodies. Embark on The Inner Journey of the Karma Yogi and see how this magnetic program of simple living and high thinking can transform your reality

The Outer Layer

Ananda's Karma Yoga Ashram Program facilitates The Inner Journey of the Karma Yogi, balancing outward activity with inner realization. Through Ananda meditation, Ananda yoga, applied yoga philosophy, and selfless service, they gain tools to spiritualize your daily activities. Application of these spiritual principles helps you to dive ever more deeply into your inherent divinity, awakening your soul nature.

The Daily Spiritual Practices

Participation in daily sadhana is a part of your routine as a Karma Yogi. The twice-daily sadhanas feature Energization Exercises, Ananda Yoga, and Ananda Meditation. During your stay as a Karma Yogi, you will learn the Hong-Sau technique of meditation, the Energization Exercises, and study The Art and Science of Raja Yoga. These are all stepping-stones on the Path of Kriya Yoga.

Yoga Philosophy

The study program is structured on The Art and Science of Raja Yoga, by Swami Kriyananda based on the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda. Raja, or “Royal” Yoga, integrates the yoga paths of devotion, wisdom and selfless service along with deep meditation. Yoga means union. In the daily discussion groups and twice-weekly classes, you will explore the different levels of union from the outward harmonization of strength and softness to the ultimate union of your little self with the infinite Divine Self.


True Karma Yoga depends not so much on the nature of your actions, rather on the spirit behind your actions. The spirit in which people serve is more important than the service itself. When people act without desire for the fruits of your actions, then people act selflessly. This enables people to let go of thoughts for future and past allowing people to live in The Eternal Now.

What is The Inner Journey?

The most basic definition of karma is action. This definition makes karma yoga the path of action. Karma yoga, however, requires more than just running around doing more and more in a frenzy of activity. The attitude with which people act is of supreme importance to the karma yogi. Nishkam karma, or action without desire for the fruits of the actions, is karma yoga. Eliminating desires eliminates the disappointment that all too often results when people's desires are not met.

Service in Ananda's Karma Yoga Ashram Program helps people to live more at the moment. Tasks repeat themselves day after day. It is impossible to wash the dishes so well that there will be no dirty dishes tomorrow! All daily chores will need to be completed again tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after, and on it goes. Flowing from day to day, the rhythm of service grounds people n the present moment, with no concern for either the past or the future. This allows you to remain present, focused on your current actions at this moment. The Eternal Now.

“...The [Karma] Yogi, by his selfless actions, develops an awareness of the divine power flowing through him…” — Swami Kriyananda

By acting consciously as a channel for the Divine people realize that it is not how hard one works, but how fully you can express God through your work that is truly important. Seeing God as the Doer cultivates greater Divine attunement. The more people act as God’s channel and the more they can express God’s joy through everything people do, the greater their happiness and the happiness of others.

“The vessel is blessed by that which flows through it.”

The course curriculum of yoga philosophy is based upon the book The Art and Science of Raja Yoga written by Swami Kriyananda. Each week we have two-afternoon classes exploring the wealth of information in this book. The themes discussed during these classes carry on throughout the week during morning meetings, assignments, and interactive learning.

Raja Yoga

Image of Kriyananda- teachings at Ananda Village. Raja Yoga, or the ‘royal’ yoga, is the harmonious combination of the paths of Bhakti / Devotion, Gyana / Wisdom, and Karma / Action with meditation. Meditation is integral to the path of Raja Yoga, and for that, they have several specific meditation techniques that were taught by the Guru, Paramhansa Yogananda.

Deep love and devotion to God, as practiced in Bhakti Yoga, is vital to success on the spiritual path, but without meditation, that devotion can turn outward into mere emotion. Meditation without Karma Yoga, or selfless God-reminding activity, may make the yogi become selfish or lazy.

Gyana Yoga, or the yoga of wisdom, is essential because people must use discrimination and wisdom in order to understand themselves, their desires and attachments, and all the ways in which they can go astray on the spiritual path. Gyana Yoga without Karma Yoga, however, can become mere armchair philosophizing, of no real use.

This is the barest of explanations of how these yogas work together; to help the yogi become balanced, and to integrate their inner spiritual experiences. These diverse practices all serve the real goal of yoga—“union with God”, or as Paramhansa Yogananda put it, “union of the little, ego-self with the divine Self, the infinite Spirit.”

Swami Kriyananda's The Art and Science of Raja Yoga is an extraordinary guide for people on any spiritual path and gives a much fuller explanation of Raja Yoga and how the different facets come together to polish the jewel of inner realization.

Your Daily Schedule

As a Karma Yogi, you serve one to two service shifts each day (11 shifts per week). Each shift is about two hours. During your stay, you will find that you have plenty of free time to enjoy Ananda Village's 700 acres of scenic beauty; including our quaint “downtown” Ananda, our local farms, goat dairy, and Crystal Hermitage Gardens. You may also enjoy taking time to experience local hikes around the scenic Yuba River and explore historic Nevada City.

Sample Karma Yoga schedule:

  • 06:00 Daily wake-up gong
  • 06:30 - 08:30 Daily morning Sadhana, Expanding Light Temple
  • (Energization exercises, Ananda yoga, chanting, and meditation)
  • 08:30 - 09:00 Breakfast in silence, except Sundays
  • 09:05 - 10:00 Daily spiritual meeting and discussion
  • 10:00 Kitchen blessing
  • 10:05 - 12 noon Morning Karma Yoga service shift*
  • 12:00 - 12:30 Meditation: Monday / Wednesday / Friday / Saturday
  • (“Swami Kriyananda Video” on Tuesdays - “Purification Ceremony” on Thursdays
  • 12:30 - 13:30 Lunch
  • 13:30 - 15:30 Afternoon Karma Yoga service shift
  • 15:30 - 16:30 Tuesdays and Thursdays
  • Class on The Art and Science of Raja Yoga
  • 16:45 - 18:30 Daily afternoon sadhana, Expanding Light Temple
  • 18:30 - 19:30 Dinner
  • 19:30 - 22:00 Evening Karma Yoga service shift
  • Karma Yogis have 11 service shifts per week
  • 2 service shifts per day with three “half-days” (with one shift) per week. There is also the option to have one full day and one-half day off per week
  • Full day = 2 service shifts
  • Half day = 1 service shift

Retreat location

The Expanding Light Retreat is located at Ananda Village, a cooperative spiritual community dedicated to the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda, founded by his direct disciple, Swami Kriyananda. Presently, over 200 residents of all ages live on 700 acres of land in the Sierra Nevada foothills of northern California. The Expanding Light Retreat is 90 minutes northeast from the Sacramento Airport. It is one of the most respected spiritual communities in the world, founded in 1969 by Swami Kriyananda, a direct disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda.

Nearby places

  • Healthy market or deli - 5 minutes
  • Lake Tahoe - 2 hours
  • Sacramento - 2 hours
  • Sacramento International Airport (SMF) - 1 hour and 30 minutes

This Yoga Retreat is vegetarian-friendly

Click to see more vegetarian-friendly Yoga Retreats


Three delicious and satisfying vegetarian buffet meals are included with the cost of your stay. We offer vegan and gluten-free options. The Expanding Light Retreat uses organically grown foods as much as possible, including certified organic produce from Ananda Village, and organically grown Fair Trade coffee offered at breakfast. There are a variety of teas and fresh fruit available all day. There is a small refrigerator for guests who are staying in Serenity House Lounge and a full-size refrigerator outside the kitchen available for storing special foods guests might need during their stay. There is a market in Ananda Village if you would like to buy special items.

Meals are taken in the dining room with other guests and staff. You may choose to visit with and enjoy the company of others or find a quiet spot to enjoy your meal with yourself.

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

The following dietary requirement(s) are served and/or catered for:

  • Vegetarian
  • Vegan
  • Organic
  • Whole food
  • Other dietary requirements on request
If you have special dietary requirements it's a good idea to communicate it to the organiser when making a reservation

Things to do (optional)

  • Shop at our treasure-filled boutique
  • Walk to Ananda's Masters Market for a sweet treat!
  • Private yoga therapy sessions
  • Massage
  • Cranio-sacral therapy
  • Lymphatic drainage
  • Reiki
  • Spiritual counseling
  • Emotional freedom technique
  • Vedic Astrology consultation

What's included

  • 13 nights accommodation
  • 3 vegetarian meals per day
  • All classes and activities
  • Computer lounge and Wi-Fi available
  • Walk the pristine over 700 acres of Ananda Village
  • Visit the Crystal Hermitage Gardens
  • Watch the sunset over the Sierra Nevada foothills at our beautiful Sunset Ridge

What's not included

  • Airfare
  • Transportation to and from the Expanding Light Retreat (available upon request at an additional cost of $125 each way)
  • Healing treatments and personal sessions

How to get there

Recommended Airports

Arrival by airplane

Please book your flight to arrive at Sacramento International Airport (SMF). Transfer from and to the airport is available upon request. There are scheduled rides for pick-up and drop-off on certain days, not every day. For “on-demand” rides, the Expanding Light Retreat cannot guarantee that they can pick you up or drop you off at any time. However, they are able to fill most "on-demand" requests. If you would like to request a ride, please contact them directly and tell them when you would like a pickup or drop off at Sacramento International Airport (SMF). The cost per person is 85 USD - 150 USD one way.

Driving directions from Sacramento

  • Take I-80 (E) towards Reno; go about 25 miles.
  • At Auburn, turn left on CA-49 (N) toward Grass Valley / Nevada City; go 38 miles.
  • Just past Nevada City, turn left at the "49 to Downieville" sign. Follow this road for 10.5 miles (watch your odometer). It's a curving mountain road that crosses the Yuba River.
  • Turn right on Tyler-Foote Road (immediately after the sign for Malakoff Diggins State Park); go about 5 miles
  • Turn left on Ananda Way and left again (almost immediately) on Expanding Light Way.

Driving directions from Reno

  • Take I-80 (W) towards Sacramento - go 55 miles.
  • Take CA-20 (W) - go 27 miles. *Turn right on CA-49 (N) towards Downieville - go 10.5 miles.
  • Turn right on Tyler-Foote Road (immediately after the sign for Malakoff Diggins State Park) - go about 5 miles.
  • Turn left on Ananda Way and left again (almost immediately) on Expanding Light Way.

Driving directions from the Northwest

  • Take I-5 (S) to Williams, California.
  • Take CA-20 (E) to Nevada City; go 77 miles.
  • Turn left on CA-49 (N) towards Downieville; go 10.5 miles.
  • Turn right on Tyler-Foote Road (immediately after the sign for Malakoff Diggins State Park); go about 5 miles.
  • Turn left on Ananda Way and left again (almost immediately) on Expanding Light Way.

Arrival by bus

Greyhound bus offers service to Colfax.

Amtrak bus offers bus service to Colfax (if coming from the East) and Auburn (if coming from the West), each about an hour away from the Retreat.

Arrival by train

Amtrak offers train service to Colfax and Auburn. -A shuttle provided by the Retreat to and from the Sacramento Airport and the Colfax or Auburn stations may be available upon request for an additional cost. Alternate transportation may be requested via ride apps, cabs or renting a vehicle.

Cancellation Policy

  • A reservation requires a deposit of 30% of the total price.
  • The deposit is non-refundable, if the booking is cancelled.
  • The rest of the payment should be paid on arrival.
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