Yasodhara Ashram is a yoga retreat and study centre founded by Swami Sivananda Radha in 1963, in Kootenay Bay, British Columbia. Hundreds of people visit the Ashram each year, allowing it to become one of the primary economic engines in the region. Combine that with a focus on hiring locally and supporting other local businesses, it has proven that in a small community, being a thriving business is as much about giving back to the community as it is about receiving support from residents.
The Ashram is involved in economic and community development through grassroots organizations, serving on regional and community boards, the regional fire department, and facilitating funding and grants. The Ashram also hosts free community events several times a year.
Integration with the community also means integration with the environment. The Ashram staff work closely to build partnerships with local farmers in the Kootenays to supplement their own garden and orchard production. The Ashram garden produces 20% of the food residents and guests eat – 11,000 meals out of the 55,000 served annually – and Ashram menus are based on what is available seasonally from the garden. In an aim to reduce their carbon footprint and support the local economy, the Ashram purchases an additional 40% of what they consume from local farmers and orchardists.