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.
I spent a wonderful seven days at this beautiful place with Fiona, supporting a yoga teachers retreat and cooking delicious nourishing vegan food. The first two days were spent cleaning and preparing the rooms for the arrival of the teachers. Fiona was very welcoming and I was made to feel very at home right from the start. All of the tasks and jobs expected were easily explained to me, and I never felt overwhelmed or out of my depth and Fiona was helpful and answered any questions I might have along the way. Fiona invited me to join her in early morning meditation and we chanted together which was a lovely way to start the day. Fiona is extremely knowledgeable and she taught me a lot about vegan food and I loved making her recipes throughout the weekend, they were simple yet very tasty and I will be continuing to make these at home. I was able to take part in the yoga classes which I really appreciated and I found being around Fiona and the other yoga teachers very inspiring. I found Fiona to be incredibly generous and we had some really thought provoking and enlightening conversations around many subjects and I really enjoyed getting to know her. This is a really special place and Fiona’s vision of it really resonated with me and I felt really privileged to stay there and to contribute. Ultimately I had a wonderful experience and have taken a lot from it. I am excited to go back and see Fiona again and to see how this place evolves over time. I recommend this beautiful place highly to anyone who wants to learn more about yoga, mediation, veganism, sustainable living and community. Thank you so much for having me! Jo August 2018
Fiona’s yoga farm is a very beautiful, silent, meditative and paceful place.
The vegan food is delicious. I lived for 10 days in a vary clean and beautiful room.
Fiona is a very kind host, I worked for 5 hours a day, 2 days-off.
Me and an other volunteer worked in the garden, watering the trees and with the
lawnmower. Lorenzo July 2018
I had a wonderful one week stay at Fiona’s yoga farm; the setting was idyllic, benefiting hugely from the eco-therapy and utterly peaceful vibe of the property and surrounding area. I was delighted to experience an insight in to the yogic lifestyle and the serenity and source connection that is cultivated from it. Fiona was a fantastic host, she was very understanding and friendly, an empathetic teacher and an energising individual with an inspiring vision. I enjoyed helping with cooking, spring cleaning, weeding and strimming and would love to comeback in the future to see how the Fionas project grows and flourishes. I also participated in some yoga lessons and a meditation course whilst I was their, of which I found very interesting and hugely beneficial.
Namaste Fiona and Om Ben, May 2018