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Spiritual New Year Yoga Retreat in California

This perennial favorite is the perfect way to take stock of the past year and prepare inwardly to achieve your goals in the coming year, all in a relaxed, supportive environment of other spiritual seekers. Leave behind the ho-hum (or raucous!) atmosphere of New Year’s at home, and let Diksha and Gyandev McCord lead you through a New Year’s Retreat that’s joyful and rejuvenating, giving you a powerful boost for your peace of mind. Join Ananda’s uplifting New Year’s Ceremony, which includes purification practices, prayers for world peace, meditation, and a very special tradition: chanting a powerful ancient mantra 108 times to bring in the new year .


  • Purification practice
  • Light-hearted entertainment
  • 2 daily yoga and meditation practices
  • Ananda’s uplifting New Year’s Ceremony
  • Chanting a powerful ancient mantra 108 times to bring in the new year
  • Serene walks through the beautiful, peaceful hills of Ananda Village
  • 3 delicious vegetarian buffet meals per day
  • 5 nights accommodation

Skill level

  • Beginner


4 days with instruction in English
Spoken languages: English
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The accommodation options are for single or double occupancy. A single guest may choose to share a room with another guest of the same gender or occupy a room privately. Two guests traveling together may occupy a room privately.

Each guest room includes two twin beds, heat, air conditioning, towels, and bedding. A limited number of queen-sized beds are available. King conversions are available for an extra charge upon request. Fresh linens and towels are available weekly with no daily maid service. Wi-Fi is available for all guests. Guests who stay in a tent or RV have access to free Wi-Fi in Serenity Lounge as the Wi-Fi does not extend to all tent or RV sites. The Expanding Light Retreat has a computer lounge with two computers and a printer. Please be aware that the Expanding Light has limited handicap accessibility.

Private and shared DELUXE rooms

Harmony house

Each room has a private entrance, a private bathroom, air conditioning, a ceiling fan, and a hairdryer.

Private and shared STANDARD rooms


Each cabin has one room, which is larger and more private than other standard rooms. Cabin occupants share separate men's and women's shower houses a few paces away and the path is lit after dark.

Serenity house

Serenity house is an inn-style house with twelve rooms and four hall bathrooms. Serenity House lounge is available for all guests. It is equipped with a small refrigerator for personal items, hot tea and a microwave.

RVs and tents

The Expanding Light Retreat does not provide tents or RVs. Please bring your own camping gear and be sure that tents are water tight in the case that it may rain. RVs are welcome year round, however, the property does not have RV facilities or hookups.

Tent spaces do not include facilities for cooking or picnicking. There is a high fire danger in the summer so no campfires are allowed, as well as candles, kerosene lamps, or anything with an open flame.

Because of animals, no food is allowed in the tenting area. The Expanding Light Retreat has a refrigerator behind the main kitchen which is available for guests.

Shower houses

For those staying outdoors, guests have access to separate men and women shower houses. Facilities have flush toilets, plenty of hot water, and shower and toilet partitions for your comfort and privacy.

The Expanding Light Retreat California Yoga Retreat Program

New Year Renewal: Relax, Recharge, Refocus starts the afternoon of the first day. It is ideal to arrive before 4 p.m., if you are able to. That way, you can join in the afternoon session of yoga and meditation, which begins at 4:45 p.m. Dinner is at 6:30 p.m. The first real gathering of your group is at 7:30 p.m. If you need to arrive here after 5 p.m., let The Expanding Light Retreat know. They can also put aside a dinner for you if you need to arrive after 7 p.m. The program ends with lunch on the last day.

Typical daily schedule.


06:00 a.m. Wake-up bell

06:30 a.m. Sadhana (spiritual practices) which consists of: Energization exercises (20 - 25 min.), Yoga postures (60 min.), Chanting (5 min.), Meditation (15 min. – 30 min.)

08:30 a.m. Breakfast (in silence Monday-Saturday)

10:00 a.m. Scheduled program, class, group activity, or free time


12:00 p.m. Meditation (5 min. chanting, 25 min. meditation)

12:30 p.m. Lunch

02:00 p.m. Scheduled program, class, group activity, or free time

04:45 p.m. Sadhana (spiritual practices) which consists of: Energization exercises (20 - 25 min.), Yoga postures (60 min.), Chanting (5 min.), Meditation (15 min. – 30 min.)

05:15 p.m. Lahiri Shrine meditation (alternative to regular sadhana)


  • 06:30 p.m. Dinner
  • 07:30 p.m. Scheduled program, class, group activity, or free time

Schedule but may change due to special events


Gyandev McCord
Yoga Alliance E-RYT 500 (Yoga)
Combining a fun-loving spirit, keen insight into the spiritual life, and genuine warmth, Nayaswami Gyandev makes the inner quest seem both natural and doable. Since 1983, he has taught Ananda Yoga to thousands of students and trained hundreds of teachers around the world, often forging deep and lasting bonds of friendship and inspiration. Gyandev’s devotion to sharing wisdom shows through the many resources he develops, like online newspapers and forums, videos, and new courses to help students deepen their experience of yoga, and give teachers more tools, and insights for their own classes.
Diksha McCord
Yoga Alliance E-RYT 500 (Yoga)
Nayaswami Diksha has been a popular Expanding Light teacher since 1997 as well as the director of the meditation teacher training program. She is a native Israeli who came to the U.S. in 1990 and is a powerful and dynamic woman who has shared yoga postures and yogic teachings across the United States, Canada, and Europe. She teaches many different courses at The Expanding Light. Diksha is also an outstanding chef and very knowledgeable about the yogic diet and Ayurveda, an Indian system of natural health and healing.


This retreat will be held at The Expanding Light in California, USA. The Expanding Light is located in Ananda Village, one of the world's most successful spiritual communities. Situated in the Sierra Nevada foothills in Northern California, it’s approximately two hours east of Sacramento and two hours west of Lake Tahoe. The Expanding Light is a teaching and retreat center set on 40 beautiful acres.

Guests have visited here for almost 50 years from all parts of the world with many different spiritual perspectives between one and two thousand visitors each year. All programs are based on the universal teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda. Founded by Swami Kriyananda in 1969, Ananda Village is a spiritual cooperative community, an expression of one of Paramhansa Yogananda’s ideals that people live together harmoniously, united in the goal of self-realization.

Ananda Village, home of The Expanding Light, is an intentional community, with about 200 resident adults and children. Ananda is organized like a village, with member-operated businesses, a school system, a market, homes, and temples. Expanding Light guests are offered tours of the Village and are welcome to walk the acreage as they wish.

Nearby Places

  • Lake Tahoe - 2 hours
  • Sacramento - 2 hours
  • Yuba River - 20 minute drive

This Yoga Retreat is vegetarian-friendly

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Three delicious and satisfying vegetarian buffet meals are included with the cost of your stay. Some dishes contain eggs and dairy. Organically grown foods are used as much as possible including some organically grown eggs and produced at Ananda Village, and organically grown fair trade coffee.

A variety of teas and fresh fruit are also available all day. Special dietary needs with non-dairy, non-wheat, and egg-free choices can be accommodated on request.

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
  • Snacks
  • Drinks

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

  • Vegetarian
  • 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)

During your free time, "Serenity Lounge" is a homey room located in the Serenity building. When not in use for a class, it is open to guests for relaxation, reading, meditation, watching videos, listening music, or just socializing. Serenity Lounge is also stocked with tea and coffee and equipped with a small refrigerator, microwave, and electric teapot for guest use.

Crystal hermitage

At Crystal Hermitage guests can enjoy the spiritual heart of Ananda. Tour the beautiful gardens, small chapel, and the Shrine of the Masters, a small museum and gift shop housing holy relics from India and Ananda's line of yoga masters.

Visit Lahiri Mandir

Lahiri Mandir is a small chapel on the path to Lotus Lake. It is a sacred space ideal for meditation, Lahiri is open all the time for quiet reflection and meditation.

Hansa temple

A unique architectural building that houses longer morning meditations for Ananda residents. If some guests are experienced meditators and would like a 90 minute meditation, they are welcome to join. Ask for times at the front desk.

Masters market

  • A natural foods market with a deli, bakery, and cappuccino bar that also features home-made pizza on Friday nights, a local favorite!

Rajarshi park

A complex that houses a number of Ananda businesses including the management offices for the community; the healing prayer ministry, with 600 members worldwide who do healing prayers for those in need; and Crystal Clarity publishers, which produces books, DVDs, and CDs by Paramhansa Yogananda, Swami Kriyananda, and others on topics related to yoga, meditation, and self-realization.

Visit Lotus Lake

Lotus Lake is a lovely lake that fills with water lilies and lotus flowers in summer. It is a beautiful area ideal for walks where you can often see wild birds. A path around the lake includes outdoor altars to the line of Masters.

Visit the main temple

This temple is located just off the dining room, is a beautiful space in which daily practice of yoga postures and meditation is held, as well classes and evening programs. When not in use for a scheduled class or event, it is open for meditation and Hatha yoga.

The Expanding Light boutique

The boutique is located in the guest services building and is open from 09:00 to 17:00 daily. Full of unique treasures, The Expanding Light boutique is a favorite destination shopping stop for guests and locals alike.

Spa treatments

Located just across the meadow from The Expanding Light Retreat is the center for radiant health. The center offers massage, body and energy work, emotional freedom techniques, career coaching, and astrology consultations.

Personal instruction in meditation

This is available to everyone Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday at 10:00 a.m. or at other times by appointment. Even if you currently meditate, it is encouraged to take the class which includes: how to focus your mind, how to sit comfortably, when and where to meditate, and more.

Private yoga classes

Personally tailored to your body and needs, these classes are available with one of the certified Ananda yoga teachers for a fee of 75 USD per hour. You can focus on classical Hatha yoga or Restorative yoga. Contact the front desk to make an appointment.

Healing prayer

A healing prayer, on an individual basis, is offered through the healing prayer ministry for a suggested donation between 40 USD to 100 USD. Session lengths vary based on individual need.

Individual spiritual counseling

Receive assistance and guidance tailored to your needs with counseling available from the Ananda ministers for a fee of 75 USD per hour. If you are interested, contact the front desk to schedule a private session.

What's included

  • 5 nights accommodation
  • 2 optional guided yoga classes and energization exercises (sadhana)
  • 3 daily vegetarian meals
  • All classes and activities described in the program
  • All course materials as appropriate
  • Many options for daily meditation

What's not included

  • Additional meals
  • Activities not mentioned on the itinerary
  • Airfare
  • Airport transportation
  • Massages and therapies
  • Wellness treatments

How to get there

Driving directions from Sacramento International Airport (SMF)

  • Take I-80 Eats towards Reno and keep going about 25 miles.
  • At Auburn, turn left on CA-49 North towards Grass Valley, Nevada City for 38 miles.
  • Just past Nevada City, turn left at the “49 to Downieville" sign and follow this road for 10 miles and a half. 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 and keep going for about five miles.
  • Turn left on Ananda way and left again almost immediately on Expanding Light way.

Driving directions from Reno–Tahoe International Airport (RNO)

  • Take I-80 West towards Sacramento and keep going 55 miles.
  • Take CA-20 West and keep going 27 miles.
  • Turn right on CA-49 North towards Downieville and keep going 10 miles and a half.
  • Turn right on Tyler-Foote Road (immediately after the sign for Malakoff Diggins State Park) and keep going about five miles.
  • Turn left on Ananda way and left again almost immediately on Expanding Light way.

Driving directions from the Northwest

  • Take I-5 South to Williams, California.
  • Take CA-20 East to Nevada City and keep going 77 miles.
  • Turn left on CA-49 North towards Downieville and keep going 10 miles and a half.
  • Turn right on Tyler-Foote Road (immediately after the sign for Malakoff Diggins State Park) and keep going about five miles.
  • Turn left on Ananda way and left again almost immediately on Expanding Light way.

Arrival by airplane

Please book your flight to arrive at Sacramento International Airport (SMF). Another option is to book your flight to arrive at Reno–Tahoe International Airport (RNO). Airport transportation is available on request for an additional cost. A carpool matching service is also available. Please send The Expanding Light Retreat an inquiry for more information.

Arrival by bus

Bus services are available to Colfax. To get to Ananda from Colfax you will need to take a cab.

Arrival by train

Train services are available to Colfax. To get to Ananda from Colfax you will need to take a cab.

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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Please request or book your reservation at least 24 hours prior to your desired arrival date.

Tuesday January 1, 2019
(5 days / 4 nights)

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