Information for karma yogis/wwoofers
Thank you for your interest in volunteering at Viveka Gardens Yoga Farm. The purposes of a retreat place are to leave behind mundane matters, go within and find inspiration. You can contribute to the higher and more peaceful vibration here with your effort. This benefits all who come here, including yourself. If you are new to ashram-style life there may be some challenges. Please read the following notes to help you decide if this is the right place for you. There is an application form at the end.
Karma Yoga is one of the four paths of yoga. You can approach your time here in a spirit of simple work exchange, and possibly in addition, of karma yoga. Please read this blog that describes what karma yoga is, and reflect if this makes sense and is of interest to you. Tasks include gardening and other work on the land, cleaning and cooking. Admin, marketing or other skills are also valuable. You will be supported and trained but it’s important that you are a self-starter, and especially, finisher.
- ad hoc training in horticulture according to the tasks in hand of the season
- a safe, warm and inclusive environment for relaxation, learning and sharing
- an opportunity to develop yoga practices and live an ashram-style life
- accommodation and food
- experienced coaching and mentoring
- a rural location away from it all
- simple living, high thinking Swami Sivananda
The daily routine includes yoga and meditation, self-directed during quiet times, and led during retreats or when guests are here. You are encouraged to do your practice, whatever that may be, and/or join Fiona. After a communal meal, evenings are generally a quiet time for reading/reflection/journaling/practice/playing music. There is a good range of books on food, natural history, yoga and general spirituality. If you love your phone and download a lot of stuff to watch this is probably not the best place for you.
A start and end date to your stay are agreed, with the first week as a trial period for both sides. The agreement can be reviewed prior to proposed end date.
A framework for your time here can be set with coaching goals. My experience wwoofing often was that hosts just wanted me to do the weeding. However, I was in learning and growing mode as I was between stages. At Viveka Gardens we would like to support you in your time out from mainstream. Goals could be about learning to grow food, personal/spiritual goals or whatever is pertinent and you wish to share. Sankalpa Coaching.
We follow a vegan yogi diet, always tasty, nutritious and filling, we hope. There are gluten-free options where at all possible (let us know in advance). We eat communally.We have lots of lovely herb and spice teas and barleycup for you. Black tea and coffee are not available.
It is 100% vegan and caffeine free here. Please be sure you would be ok with that before coming. If you drink tea or coffee, please experiment with the withdrawal effect in advance, a severe headache and grumpiness after 36 hours or so, even if it is ‘only one cup a day’. When indiviuals haven’t given up it is hard work for all.
Wifi is slow in this rural area so you are encouraged to make a virtue of it and enjoy a digital detox. Similarly, phone signal is poor. You can of course give the landline number to partner/family for use in case of emergency.
You’ll have a comfortable bed in one of the guest spaces, maybe sharing with other people of the same sex. There is good hot water and cosy woodburners. If you are used to central heating you may need to adapt in winter. The two barns are heated by woodburners. You will be shown how to light and maintain them. It is up to all take responsibility for safe use.
Drainage is via a septic tank which relies on natural organisms to break down effluent so you are invited to bring organic, biodegradable toiletries. Ideally these are not tested on animals and do not contain animal products. There is Faith in Nature Shampoo and Dr Bronner soap for you to use. Bins are provided for tampons, towels, wipes etc.
You are encouraged to do yoga asanas and meditation or be mindful when others are practising that your activities are peaceful, even if you are somewhere else on the property.
If coming flying to the UK check out flights to Bristol or Exeter. From Gatwick or Heathrow you can get easy connections to central London Victoria for a coach to Exeter, or Paddington/Waterloo train stations to Exeter. From Bristol there you can take a coach to Exeter. From Exeter you can take a small train to Morchard Road, or buses to either North Tawton or Morchard Road (a stop called the Devonshire Dumpling). We will do our best to pick you up and drop you off on arrival/departure.
This retreat place is a little remote in a traditional farming area – perfect for a retreat place! A 30 minute walk will take you to a bus stop and from there you can go to Exeter, the cathedral town for Devon, the nearest market towns of Okehampton or Crediton, or towards the seaside town of Barnstaple on the north coast. There are nice walks and nearest villages with shops are about 4 miles away. I go out at least 3 days a week to teach classes or do life coaching, and other days usually, so I can give you a lift too. Two of these places are within Dartmoor National Park, 15 minutes away by car, which is world known for its wild and wonderful landscape.
- Warm and waterproof clothes for outside
- sun hat and warm hat
- Good working boots and probably wellington boots too (there are some spare wellies here to borrow)
- Gardening gloves if you have them
- Yoga mat if you have one/are a yogi
- Meditation cushion if you have one/are a yogi
- Blanket and/or meditation shawl
- Comfortable clothes, lots of layers
- Slippers, warm socks
- Ideally bio-degradable, organic wash products (to not harm septic tank flora), not containing animal products nor tested on animals – there are toiletries for use
What not to bring: pets, loud music, aggressive/violent/sexual books/music/downloads, fur or other animal products. We accept wool, silk and leather shoes are hard to avoid; see also house rules below.
We supply Faith in Nature shampoo and conditioner, Dr Bronner soap for you to preserve septic tank flora and avoid the vibration of animal testing/products.
At Viveka Gardens the aspiration is to lift the vibration of the place and visitors. Therefore, you are asked to:
- attend meditation and asana sessions or respect when they are going on
- help maintain the peaceful and pure atmosphere of the meditation/altar space and asana studio in particular, also the other inside spaces and the land
- use your phone outside or in the hall and be considerate of retreat participants/other volunteers wanting to enjoy the retreat atmosphere
- not bring meat, eggs, dairy, fish, tobacco, alcohol, drugs, garlic, onions, caffeine-containing drinks, honey
- aim to observe silence overnight from the end of evening meditation (9.30) to end of morning meditation
- leave outside shoes and coats on the hall racks
- contribute to the daily tasks in the running of the place as well as your volunteer tasks (included time-wise in your weekly hours)
- avoid gossip and negative talk
Thank you for reading to the end. If you feel you would like to volunteer please complete this form.
Above all I would say that Fiona is a mindful person. She was often making sure that we were feeling well, that we had have enough food (so fresh and delicious by the way!), that we were warm enough, that we had enough clean clothes left, … If you are not a native English speaker and want to improve your English, Fiona is also a great teacher.
I am really over the moon when I am thinking about the time I had at the Garden, the things I have learned from Fiona and all the things I experienced! Outdoors work, trees and nature, meditation, yogi food, yoga classes, languages, cultures, reconnecting with yourself, amongst other things.
In short, if you are looking for a very special place to volunteer: do not hesitate to text Fiona! I am sure you will get some benefits from this exchange anyway. Laetitia, March 2018
I spent an interesting and enjoyable time volunteering over three weeks at Viveka Gardens in Jan 2018. It is set in a beautiful part of Devon close to the magical Dartmoor National Park. I was really impressed with Fiona’s vision and commitment to creating a community to share yoga, organic growing and the natural environment. During my stay Fiona willingly shared her knowledge and experience of yogi life and invited working volunteers to join in with morning meditation practice, chanting and yoga lessons. The food was always freshly cooked and nutritious and we also had the opportunity to try making some of the vegan recipes ourselves.
The work was varied and for the most part outdoors which I really enjoyed, it included, weeding, barrowing mulch, strimming, clearing borders and tree planting. Fiona is an experienced and empathic teacher and I really enjoyed learning about and practising Sivananda yoga with her. I felt that I learnt a lot during my stay about yogi life, living in community and also about myself and am grateful to Fiona and the other volunteers I shared the time with. I will definitely return again to see how this inspiring project develops. Thank you Fiona. Jude, Feb 2018
I stayed at Fiona’s wonderful Yoga Farm for 1 week as a “workawayer” and really enjoyed the tranquility and beauty of the countryside. Her Yoga lessons where my highlight so was the meditation in the morning. I am thankful for the opportunity to get to know Fiona’s strong vision of an ashram like farm in GB. I really recommend this place to everyone who is interested in a yogic lifestyle that is connected with the beauty of nature Franka, Jan 2018
I had a lovely 3 day stay with the host over the New Year. The tasks were varied and interesting, especially when coupled with Fiona’s clearly vast and extensive knowledge of plants and the land. The food was all freshly prepared, so delicious and I really enjoyed learning more about the yogi diet and lifestyle.
I loved the lack of signal and no tv, it was the perfect quiet retreat from modern day life. Fiona was a great host, forthcoming with information and patient when explaining new things. I definitely look forward to returning in the future…100% success on my first workaway stay! Lucy, December 2017