FAQs - School of Community Studies

Yoga Service and Community

2021 YSC Update

The YSC program is currently paused along with all other on-site programs. If you are interested in other ways of joining the Mount Madonna community, please see the MMC Opportunities page. We look forward to hosting you in 2022!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the YSC a typical "work trade" program?

No. The Yoga, Service, and Community (YSC) program is a Service-Learning program wherein participants serve at the Center in different service areas AND are provided with structured learning opportunities. This program is short-term (3 months) and has a tuition fee.

What is the tuition cost and what does it cover?

The total tuition cost for the program is $1,345.00

Tuition provides participants with a single accommodation room with a shared "Jack and Jill" adjoining style bathroom.

Meals are also provided. 3 Vegetarian meals a day* plus snacks are included in the tuition cost. Mount Madonna Center is strictly vegetarian. No meat is allowed on the property.

*Two meals are provided on Saturdays: Bruch & Dinner.

Are scholarships available?

Partial Scholarships are offered on a limited, first-come, first-serve basis. Scholarships are given when funds are available and an applicant's skill sets match current Center needs. For example: If an applicant has a background working in a commercial kitchen and MMC is in need of kitchen support then a scholarship may be given. Please note on your application if you will be asking for scholarship consideration and in what service area.

In what kinds of service areas are YSC participants placed?

  • Kitchen
  • Maintenance
  • Dining Room
  • Garden
  • Recycling
  • Clerical/Office Work
  • Landscaping
  • Campgrounds
  • Dishes
  • Field Staff (Setting up for workshops and events)

How many service hours do participants do a week?

YSC participants serve 24 hours per week in the service areas listed above. Additionally, participants commit to 6 hours of learning hours per week (30 total hours per week).

What learning opportunities are available?

The 6 hours of weekly learning hours are comprised of the following:

  • 2 hours: A weekly reflection and dialog circle held on Friday mornings.
  • 2 hours: A weekly theme class/discussion in the areas of yoga and meditation philosophy, selfless service as a form of self-development, exploring intentional community, or personal transformation held on Tuesdays.
  • 2 hours: A twice-weekly class on basic pranayama and meditation techniques as taught in our tradition, held on Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 6:30 to 7:30 am.

Additionally, participants may wish to complete more learning hours during their free time (See Below).

Can participants take additional time off or vacations during the program?

No. Vacations/additional time off is not available during YSC. We ask that all who accept an invitation to attend agree to being present for the full three month service-learning term. Time off (beyond the one day a week off and daily free time) is not provided unless emergency circumstances arise. Please travel or take vacation time prior to the program or after its completion.

How much time off do YSC participants receive per week?

All YSC participants are given One (1) full day off per week. The other 6 days of the week also allow for additional time for rest and reflection, but have shifts scheduled on them.

Is the YSC program restful or healing in nature?

While the YSC program can be a time of great personal growth and healing, it is physically and emotionally demanding. Being a small community that serves a large number of guests and visitors, there is always much to be done. YSC requires a good deal of stamina and a "can do" attitude.

The Center is not a place for rehabilitation or recovery. It is not the right environment for those seeking a therapeutic or rehabilitative program.

Is the YSC program suitable for those new to yoga?

Yes! In our community, we identify with Yoga in its original, broader sense, and understand it as a complete philosophy, which informs our way of life. At MMC, yoga classes are offered at least once a day, with a variety of different styles and teachers.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, all YSC 1 participants are asked to attend an introductory Aṣhṭāṅga Yoga class, where foundational prāṇāyāma and meditation techniques as taught by Baba Hari Dass are explained and experienced.

Because the YSC program is geared to teach the principles of yoga, there is no need for exceptional physical skill or prior knowledge of yoga. Nonetheless, those with more experience with yoga will have the opportunity to deepen their understanding and practice.

Is there Wifi at MMC? Can I work remotely while in YSC?

Yes, Wifi is available on site. Wifi is available in Forest View (YSC housing), the Community Building, Cafe and Conference Center but inclement weather does at times interfere with the signal. Phone signal is spotty and reception is better in some areas vs. others.

YSC participants may work remotely so long as they do so outside of scheduled program hours and are able to keep their service-learning commitments.

What is the food like at MMC?

MMC serves an all vegetarian cuisine. No meat is allowed on the premises. Furthermore, food is not cooked with onions or garlic (leeks are used instead).

Additionally, no alcohol may be consumed onsite during the YSC program. Drugs of any kind are also strictly prohibited.

I noticed that there is a childrens school onsite. May I bring my child/children with me?

The YSC program cannot accommodate families or young children at this time. This is due to a lack of appropriate family housing and lack of childcare. The Center cannot provide childcare while parents are engaged in the Service & Learning Program, making it very difficult for them to fulfill their basic program commitments (30 hours of service-learning required per week).

Mount Madonna School is a K-12 school located on Mount Madonna Center's campus. It functions separately from the Center. YSC participants may not volunteer at the school during their program as the school has its own screening process and volunteer requirements.

The YSC Program In Depth

The YSC program involves a commitment to three main components of the program; approximately 24 hours of volunteer service in a variety of areas, 4 hours in YSC weekly meetings, and 2 hours of instruction in yoga philosophy, pranayama, and meditation.

YSC participants commit to a weekly service schedule of 24 hours, plus 6 hours of learning opportunities (4 hours of group meetings and 2 hours of instruction in yoga philosophy, prāṇāyāma and meditation) for a total of 30 hours per week. Daily schedules vary, but a typical day may look something like this:

  • Morning: Yoga sādhana class (breathing practices, meditation, and postures) offered each day before breakfast. All YSC members attend Tuesday and Thursday class.
  • Daytime: Service shifts average 4-6 hours a day (with a break at lunchtime) in a variety of the following areas: recycling, kitchen, housekeeping, dish room, garden, dining room, and landscaping. YSC members also attend a reflective check-in circle once a week.
  • Evening: Dinner, theme discussions, special events, or free time.


YSC I service hours are generally spread over 6 days, with one full weekday and the greater part of Wednesday (after lunch) unscheduled. Individuals generally serve the basic needs of our community livelihood, and because kitchen, housekeeping, and event set-up comprise a large part of supporting our retreat and conference center, these make up the majority of YSC service areas.

If the community is well staffed, then some time may be volunteered in other areas, although this cannot be guaranteed. These areas may include:

  • Gardening or Landscaping
  • Building Maintenance, Campgrounds, General Grounds Maintenance, and Recycling
  • Flower Arranging and Clerical or Computer Work

Selfless service or karma yoga is an essential practice of the community. YSC participants are introduced to this practice through service-learning; they engage in a variety of areas to connect with the broad range of the Center’s activities. Kitchen and housekeeping are the core service-learning placements for YSC I. According to staffing needs and the skills of individual participants, one may also serve in maintenance, landscaping, flower arranging, or the garden.

With service-learning, participants also improve interpersonal communication skills, hone problem-solving abilities, and deepen their overall sense of self-awareness and well-being. More specialized training is available over time if and when participants accept leadership positions within our staff.


Learning hours consist of:

  • A weekly reflection and dialog circle held on Friday mornings.
  • A weekly theme class/discussion in the areas of yoga and meditation philosophy, selfless service as a form of self-development, exploring intentional community, or personal transformation held on Tuesdays.
  • A twice-weekly class on basic pranayama and meditation techniques as taught in our tradition, held on Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 6:30 to 7:30 am.
  • Yoga classes (Spiritual Practice): Daily classes are offered in the morning and some afternoons or evenings and include instruction on purifications, pranayama (breathing exercises), meditation and asana (postures). Classes are taught by Center staff.
  • Philosophy classes and discussions
  • Special group gatherings and rituals

Additional optional classes and activities:

YSC participants are able to join in the following activities that do not overlap with scheduled duties or service:

Yoga Philosophy: Offered Tuesdays from 9:00am – 10:30 am; a class in various aspects of Yogic philosophy. The class is lead by Baba Hari Dass’s senior students.

Bhagavad Gita: Offered Thursdays from 9:15-10:30 am; a class studying the ancient text with commentary by Baba Hari Dass. This class is lead by Baba Hari Dass’s senior students.

Yoga Sadhana (spiritual practice): Daily classes are offered in the morning and some afternoons or evenings and include instruction on purifications, pranayama (breathing exercises), meditation and asana (postures).

Arati: A devotional ritual offered daily at sunrise and sunset at our temple, Sankat Mochan Hanuman Mandir.

Community Activities: YSC participants are encouraged to join our occasional fun nights, theme dinners, open mic nights, special meditation/discussion groups, or the weekly knitting circle. Although not weekly activities, YSC participants are also invited to participate in seasonal 4-day Yoga retreats as well as residents’ Community Retreats and projects. Creativity in organizing community events is welcomed.

YSC Fees and Application

  • The tuition for the YSC 1 is $1,345.00
  • A non-refundable fee of $25 is due at time application. Upon acceptance into the program, a deposit of $250 (US funds) is required to confirm your participation.
  • We must receive your application and deposit no later than 28 days (four weeks) before the starting date of the YSC session to which you are applying.
  • We receive and review applications on a first come basis and may fill the session before this one-month cutoff.You may email us to see if there is still room before sending an application.

The Admissions Process

After receiving your completed application, you will be contacted by the YSC Admissions Coordinator. If you are selected to move on in the application process, then you will be offered an interview. This may take place on the phone or in an on-site meeting if you live locally. Due to Center needs and limited space availability not applicants will be asked for a phone interview and not all of those who complete a phone interview will be invited to attend.

Cancellation Policy: If you cancel at least four weeks prior to the starting date of your program, there is a cancellation fee of $100; the remainder of your deposit will be refunded. If you cancel less than four weeksprior to the starting date, your entire deposit is forfeited. Because housing and scheduling are complex issues in a community, we ask that you inform us as early as possible about an unavoidable cancellation.

An orientation process begins your program, so we ask that participants commit to be here on the starting date. Commitment to the full program (start to finish dates) is required from all YSC participants. If you are accepted to the Yoga, Service and Community Program, you will be sent a confirmation letter which will tell you when to arrive and what you will need to bring for your stay here.

Apply Now

We are not currently accepting applications for our YSC program.

If you have further questions or you would simply like to speak with someone personally prior to applying, please do not hesitate to contact us. To speak to the YSC Admissions Coordinator please send an email to: ysc@mountmadonna.org.

We look forward to hearing from you!