Yoga, Service and Community at Mount Madonna Center

Yoga, Service and Community™

For those passionate about living, learning, and serving in community, Mount Madonna Center offers 3-month residential service-learning opportunities in a beautiful retreat setting. Yoga, Service, & Community™ (YSC) is a unique, experiential placement which supports those on the path of personal growth and spiritual development, with on-going classes focused on philosophy and practice, living a meaningful life, and mind-body awareness through yoga and healthy living. 

"Yoga is not one particular method.
As soon as a person starts thinking
'I want to be a better person'
that is the start of Yoga"

Baba Hari Dass

YSC Frequently Asked Questions
YSC Info Packet and Application

Program Dates

  • Sept 6 - Dec 4 *
  • Dec 6 - Mar 5 2017
  • March 7, 2017- June 4, 2017
  • June 6, 2017- August 27, 2017
  • August 29, 2017- December 3, 2017
  • December 5, 2017- March 4, 2018

* Now Accepting Applications

Living Community

Founded in 1978, Mount Madonna Center of Creative Arts & Sciences is a mountaintop retreat center and intentional community of practice, deeply rooted in classical yoga philosophy and practices. Inspired by the teachings and example of Baba Hari Dass, a silent yogi and a master of classical Ashtanga Yoga, the aim of the Center is to create a supportive environment which nurtures peace. The spiritual disciplines of yoga in its various expressions—karma yoga (or selfless service), raja yoga (the royal path), bhakti yoga (the yoga of devotion), and jnana yoga (path of knowledge)—provide the foundation of our community life... Read More

Healthy Transformation

The YSC program is made up of two 3-month sessions, YSC1 and YSC2.  The yoga and community curriculum draws upon the collective experience and knowledge of the community members, many of whom have decades of experience practicing and teaching yoga. The programs continue to evolve and change as a living piece of the community, and are the main gateways of entry for those interested in a longer stay in the community. Just as service, satsang, and self-study provide a pathway to peace in the overall mission of the Center, these values also provide the foundation for the structure of the Yoga, Service, and Community program.

The service component involves placement in a variety of areas, including the kitchen, the dish room, event setup, facilities maintenance, gardening and landscaping, housekeeping, and administrative or office environments.. Each weekly schedule includes 24 hours of service, providing opportunities for true service learning, gained through direct experience in a variety of environments. YSC participants develop flexibility, responsiveness, adaptability to new situations, and communication skills, and have the opportunity to practice positive qualities such as cooperation, kindness, cheerfulness, honesty, sacrifice, and devotion. This experiential learning happens in the context of a retreat center where the livelihood is providing a space for education and growth. In serving the larger community in the pursuit of transformation, YSC participants can themselves transform.

At a deeper level, the practice of service can provide a path to peace. The term “Karma Yoga” is often used to describe the work that people do at the Center. Karma Yoga is both an ideal and a practice, and translates literally as "yoga of action", and is often understood as “selfless service”. The aim of this path is to reduce our self-interest by serving in self-dedicated duty without attachment to the fruits or results. The Center is a place where one can begin or deepen the practice of Karma Yoga.

YSC participants have a true experience of community in both structured and unstructured ways.  The concept of satsang, or “keeping the company of truth”, and often understood as “supportive community”, is the type of healthy community YSC aims to cultivate. As part of the program commitment, weekly themed discussions are facilitated by founding members  as well as  newer teachers and community members. Some topics covered in the Theme Discussions are: History of MMC, yoga philosophy & rituals, deeper look at Ashtanga Yoga, principles of Ayurveda, satsang, mantra. Theme Discussions provide an opportunity to explore different perspectives on a variety of topics. Also, a facilitated weekly reflection circle holds the space for participants to integrate and reflect upon their experience throughout the week, in their service areas, their community interactions, and their own self-development. Finally, the weekly yoga class geared for those in the YSC program provides a stable container for group practice, and a place where the cohort  can ask questions of seasoned teachers.

Beyond these programmatic opportunities for satsang, people find and create their own circles of connection and support while at the Center. Various groups and gatherings around special interests are continuously self-organizing at the Center, including kirtan nights, sports nights, talent and music events, movie night, writing groups,, knitting and countless other activities. The community life is rich at the Center, and ever-changing.

Practices of self-study and reflection, or sadhana, are rooted in the philosophy and practices of yoga in its various forms, and upon the principles of group council. Weekly required yoga classes which are geared specifically to the students in YSC provide a basis for consistent practice, and a space for questions and support in that practice. In YSC1, two hour-long classes are dedicated to pranayama (breathing practices), meditation techniques, and introduce foundational concepts in yoga philosophy. The required YSC2 intermediate yoga class is offers new intermediate pranayama practices, a deepening of the teachings of yoga philosophy, longer meditation periods, and the support of seasoned teachers and the YSC2 cohort.  The curriculum for both programs is based upon the teachings of Ashtanga Yoga, as taught by Baba Hari Dass. The intention for the classes is to introduce the powerful tool of yoga for the purpose of self-reflection and self-study, and to offer a range of practices and modalities from which students can create their own personal practice. Beyond the classes which are part of the program commitment, YSC participants can also choose to attend the many other daily offerings of yoga asana, pranayama, and meditation.

There will be free time for rest, study and recreation, and an invaluable opportunity to draw upon the 30+ years of dedicated practice that many in our community have cultivated. For those that want to explore the nearby areas, the communities of Santa Cruz, Monterey, and Big Sur, and the gorgeous natural beauty of the Monterey Bay area surround Mt. Madonna Center.

How to apply >>



Work honestly,
Meditate every day,
Meet people without fear,
And play.

Baba Hari Dass

* This program has Continuing Education Credit available for nurses
(BRN provider number 05557).