Karma Yoga

We have over forty centres and ashrams throughout the world, all run by karma yogis.

Karma yoga (voluntary service, or seva) is the practice of serving with no idea of agency or reward. It allows us to transform our daily activities into spiritual practice, as we offer our services for the benefit of others.

Swami Vishnudevananda learned from his teacher Swami Sivananda that an ounce of practice is worth a ton of theory and created a karma yoga program throughout the organization for those interested in pursuing spiritual training.
Swami Sivananda says that work is worship. Work is meditation. Serve all with intense love without expectation of reward. All work is sacred. There is no menial work from the viewpoint of karma yoga. The spirit of service must be ingrained into our very bones. A karma yogi does not expect a return of love, appreciation, gratitude or admiration from the people he is serving.

Karma yoga leads to the removal of negative qualities such as anger, greed, jealousy and fear. With commitment and over time, selflessness, purity of heart and humility develop. The result of karma yoga is the eradication of the sense of separateness. Selfishness diminishes; tolerance, compassion and love manifest. Without these qualities, no spiritual development can take place. The practice of karma yoga, by giving natural expression to devotion and wisdom, provides an excellent opportunity to go deeper into spiritual practices and at the same time to be of great service to others.

Participants are expected to follow the Ashram guidelines below. The Ashram and the Karma Yoga Program are designed to help participants maintain their daily schedule and discipline. In cases where participants have discipline issues, they will be notified or counseled by their karma yoga supervisor. However, in case of repeated offences, the matter will be escalated to the Ashram Director and the said karma yogi may be asked to leave either the program or the Ashram.

All karma yogis are expected to participate daily in satsangs, staff meeting, asana class and karma yoga assignments. They should arrive on time to classes, events and satsangs.

5:30 am Wake-up
6:00-7:30 am Satsang (meditation, chanting, lecture)
8:00-10:00 am Yoga asana class
10:00-11:00 am Brunch
4:00- 6:00 pm Yoga asana class
6:00-7:00 pm Dinner
8:00-9:30 pm Satsang (meditation, chanting, lecture)
10:30 pm Lights out

To apply for a temporary staff position, please fill in the application form after reading the Ashram Karma Yogi Guidelines and Sexual Harassment Policy.

The Temporary Staff Program is suitable for those who wish to spend up to three months at the Ashram. The amount of time engaged in karma yoga is six to eight hours a day.

Minimum duration: 1 month

Maximum duration: 3 months

We welcome applicants with all levels of yoga experience ­– you could be a teacher or not or be completely new to the practice. All that is needed is a desire to serve and learn. Following are the other requirements:

  • Participants should be 18 years of age or older.
  • Participants must disclose any physical or mental issues or ailments in their application.
  • Valid health card.
  • Participants are responsible for all travel arrangements to and from the Ashram.
  • All participants will mandatorily serve a two-week probation period. Upon satisfactory completion of the probation period, the participant will be confirmed as a karma yogi for the stipulated period as per their application. You will receive confirmation from your karma yoga supervisor.

Participants are required to attend:

  • Both morning and evening satsangs
  • Daily staff meetings
  • One yoga class daily
  • Complete their karma yoga assignments each day

Anti-Discrimination and Sexual harassment Policy

The Sivananda Vedanta Yoga Centre is a non-profit organization founded by Swami Vishnu Devananda. The Sivananda Vedanta Yoga Centre has the responsibility, among others, of making sure that its supervisors, staff, instructors, presenters, independent contractors, students, and guests comply with the Yogic philosophy and its ethical precepts. It is, therefore, the policy of the International Sivananda Vedanta Yoga Centre to prohibit discrimination because of race, color, creed, religion, sex or gender, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, marital or familial status, ancestry or caste. The Sivananda Vedanta Yoga Centre is also committed to ensuring that all staff, instructors, students, and guests are able to enjoy an atmosphere free from sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation on any of these grounds.

To this end, upon learning of alleged discrimination, harassment, or retaliation, the Sivananda Vedanta Yoga Centre shall investigate all such timely complaints promptly and thoroughly. Upon completion of the investigation, the Sivananda Vedanta Yoga Centre shall take immediate and appropriate corrective action to end the discrimination, harassment, or retaliation whenever warranted.

All such investigations must be conducted in a fair, impartial, professional, and timely manner. It is the purpose of this manual to provide a practical, step-by-step guide to handling, processing, and investigating allegations of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.

The Sivananda Vedanta Yoga Centre takes its responsibility for handling and investigating complaints of discrimination seriously. This manual has been prepared with this thought in mind.


Intake refers to the process by which an investigator (external professional) initially receives and hears the allegations(s) of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation presented by a complainant. The alleged act(s) of discrimination must be based on at least one of the following grounds: race, color, creed, religion, sex or gender, sexual harassment, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, marital or familial status, or retaliation for opposing a discriminatory practice.

The investigator will hear and make note of the allegation(s) presented; shall assist the complainant in defining the issue(s) underlying the allegation(s); and, as appropriate and when possible, make attempts to resolve the matter.


Prior to undertaking an investigation of the allegation(s) presented – that is, assuming jurisdiction over the matter – the investigator shall ascertain and establish the following:

• That the complainant has produced a recognizable and acceptable form of identification; and

• That the allegation(s) and act(s) complained of provide adequate and sufficient grounds to conclude that the complaint alleges an adverse action based upon: race, color, creed, religion, sex or gender, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, marital or familial status, or in retaliation for opposing a discriminatory practice.

If the investigator establishes the above, the investigator has authority to proceed with the complaint process. If, however, the complainant cannot establish his or her identity; or there are insufficient grounds to conclude that the allegation(s) and act(s) complained of were based upon the complainant’s race, color, creed, religion, sex or gender, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, marital or familial status, or in retaliation for opposing a discriminatory practice, the investigator will advise the complainant that he/she does not have authority to investigate the complaint and will refer the matter to the Director of the ashram or centre.


If the investigator determines that he or she has authority to investigate the alleged discrimination, the investigator will assist the complainant in completing a Complaint Form. The investigator shall ensure that the complainant includes the following data:

• The complainant’s name, address, and telephone number.

• The person named in the complaint as the alleged discriminator/harasser (“respondent”) name, address, and telephone number if known.

• Witness names, addresses, and telephone numbers.

• A concise statement of the alleged discriminatory acts or practices.

• Any pertinent documentation or evidence that the complainant may present. This may include, but is not limited to, letters or memos. Complainants shall be informed of their rights, which include the following:

• The right to confidentiality where possible.

• The right to withdraw their complaint without prejudice.

• The right to be notified in writing by the investigator upon both the commencement and conclusion of an investigation.

• The right to protection against retaliation.

Once the investigator accepts the case, the investigator shall immediately notify the complainant, respondent, and any interested parties, in writing, that a complaint has been filed. This letter shall include the following:

• Names of complainant and respondent.

• The basis of the complaint.

• A warning notice concerning the penalties for retaliation


All investigations should begin with an investigative plan. Although the specifics of each plan shall differ, depending on the nature and circumstances of the allegation(s), all planning must consider the following:

• The nature of the allegation(s), and which, if any, allegations fall within the authority of the investigator i.e. which concern discrimination, harassment or retaliation.

• Who should be interviewed, and in what order (testimonial evidence)?

• What documentary evidence, if any, must be obtained for the investigation?

• What physical evidence (i.e. photographs, diagrams, etc.) must be obtained for the investigation?

• What support and interim measures may be necessary to ensure that all involved have a sense of safety and mental well-being?


Before meeting with witnesses, an outline of potential questions, and possible follow-up questions shall be prepared. This will help the investigator focus on obtaining all of the relevant testimony needed.

Investigators should obtain information about the witnesses being interviewed. At a minimum, the investigator should ascertain the following:

• Their identity.

• How to contact them in the future.

• What the witnesses’ relationship is to the complainant, and to the respondent.

• What personal knowledge they may have regarding the specific allegation(s) being investigated.

Investigators shall explain to the witness the nature of the investigation. The investigator should also carefully explain to the witness why it is believed that they may have relevant knowledge regarding an allegation.

To ensure the confidentiality of an investigation, and to prevent influencing the witness’ testimony, an investigator shall limit the number of details revealed during the course of his or her investigation. An investigator shall avoid disclosing testimony given by other witnesses.

The investigator will determine when face-to-face interviews shall be conducted, as opposed to those conducted via telephone. Face-to-face interviews ensure that the witness is able to talk freely and is always preferable. A face-to-face interview also ensures that the investigator is able to exert more control over the interview process. An investigator should take note not only of the spoken testimony of witnesses, but also their general attitude, demeanor, and body language.

If there are multiple witnesses to be interviewed in the ashram, a field visit should be conducted. All necessary witnesses shall be contacted prior to making a field visit. A specific time shall be allotted for each witness to be interviewed. Witnesses should be interviewed individually, in a private and secure environment.

Possible witnesses to be interviewed may include:

• Respondent(s).

• Witness referred to by the respondent.

• Supervisors, staff, students, and/or guests at the ashram.

• Individuals who may have experienced the same or similar allegedly discriminatory practices.

• Witnesses named by the complainant on the original complaint form.


When possible, original copies of any documentary evidence should be obtained. The investigator must establish the relevance and legality of any and all documentation obtained. Documents and records must be relevant to the issues; however, the investigator should not disregard information that may point to other instances of discrimination. Investigators should note the sources of documentary evidence and check for authenticity and accuracy. This documentary evidence should include, but is not limited to:

• Prior complaints that may relate to the present investigation.

• Records pertaining to other staff, students and/or guests that could demonstrate any unequal treatment of the complainant.


Physical evidence shall be obtained and secured immediately to preserve its integrity. This evidence may include photographs, diagrams, and recordings.

Where the relevant allegations give rise to questions or concerns regarding the physical or geographic layout of the site where relevant facts took place, the Investigator should arrange for an on-site inspection, and take such measurements and photos and/or prepare such diagrams as may be relevant to clarify all such concerns.


A draft of a final, written determination will be forwarded to the Director of the ashram within 30 days of the filing of a complaint. Should there be impediments to concluding the investigation within 30 days, the Investigator must provide the Director with a written explanation of the delay. At the conclusion of any investigation, it is the investigator’s responsibility to draft a final investigative report that shall include the following:

• An introduction that includes both the complainant’s and respondent’s background and the basis for the complaint.

• A listing of each individual allegation, including the dates and circumstances surrounding the alleged discriminatory practices.

• A concise narrative of the facts gathered, and the methods used during the course of the investigation.

• A conclusion based on the facts revealed during the investigation. The Investigator may find:

– That there exists NO PROBABLE CAUSE to conclude that the Sivananda Vedanta Yoga Centre’s policy prohibiting discrimination or retaliation may have been violated, or that its policy regarding sexual harassment may have been violated, or

– That there exists PROBABLE CAUSE to conclude that the Sivananda Vedanta Yoga Centre’s policy prohibiting discrimination or retaliation may have been violated, or that its policies regarding discrimination, sexual harassment, or retaliation may have been violated.

• In the event that the Investigator makes a determination of PROBABLE CAUSE, the Investigator shall recommend what, if any, remedial and/or corrective action is necessary.

• In addition, the Investigator may raise other issues of concern discovered during the course of the investigation.


Final approval of both the investigator’s conclusion and recommendation must be obtained from the Director of the Sivananda Vedanta Yoga Centre.

After final approval is obtained, the investigator must notify all interested parties of the outcome of the investigation. This notification must be done in writing and all correspondence must be marked as confidential. The following parties must be notified:

• Respondent(s), who must also be notified as to the penalties for retaliation.

• Director of the Sivananda Vedanta Yoga Centre.

• Others who may have a need to know, i.e. the Sivananda Vedanta Yoga Centre’s lawyer or others whose duties at the ashram may entail a need to be notified.


Once the Sivananda Vedanta Yoga Centre is on notice of a complaint of discrimination or harassment, it is obligated to proceed with the investigation even where a complainant wishes to withdraw a compliant.

A complainant who feels that he/or she has experienced unlawful discrimination and would like to report an allegation of a discriminatory practice to the Investigator without revealing his/her identity may do so either by telephoning or writing to the investigator.

A complainant who anonymously reports discriminatory behavior to the investigator shall be advised that, notwithstanding the complainant’s desire not to file a regular complaint or notify the respondent, it may be necessary for the investigator to investigate the alleged discriminatory behavior and take action and/or recommend that actions be taken to remedy the unlawful behavior.

The Director of the ashram will evaluate the anonymous complaint to determine whether an investigation is warranted. If, based upon the information contained in the anonymous complaint, the Director determines that an investigation should be commenced; all pertinent parties will be interviewed to ascertain the facts. When all of the pertinent data has been collected, the Investigator shall write a report and make a recommendation to the Director.