Yana Retreat

A weekend of self-discovery in nature.

Near Chatsworth, Ontario on August 10th - 13th, 2023.

Register Here

The Yana Retreat is for anyone aged ~18-35 who wants to experience more balance in life and build a deeper connection with yourself, others and the earth.

At the Yana Retreat you will:

  • Learn mindfulness and meditation skills
  • Navigate your emotions with compassion
  • Connect and listen with (and to) nature
  • Reflect inwardly on your patterns, skills, and challenges
  • Nourish your body with locally sourced food
  • Explore the ways you want to grow in life

The more we are able to attune to our inner nature and surroundings with mindfulness and compassion, the better equipped we are to live an empowered life and face our fears and limitations. We are here to do this work with you.

The Yana Retreat has a foundation of mindfulness, compassion, food and nature awareness. You will learn mindfulness practices that address how to meet your inner and outer challenges with greater acceptance, responsibility, and grounding. This retreat is supported by a network of facilitators, mentors, volunteers and past participants who will all be rooting for you.  

Through mindful listening and relational skills, you’ll contemplate the impact of your family of origin and culture, connect to your relationship with food and the ecological crisis, and learn ways to address coping patterns that may not be serving you anymore so that you can expand into your potential.

This experiential retreat helps you see the roots of your patterns and ignite change. Our Yana Retreat is a rare opportunity to develop compassion towards your limitations and conditioning, as well as encourage your strengths, with the support of mentors, community and the natural world.

Register Here

The Details

📅 Sarana Institute's 5th Annual Yana Retreat runs August 10-13th, 2023.

🕚 Arrival: Thursday August 10th anytime after 3 pm to settle into your campsite, have dinner, and have some R+R around the fire. Our programming officially begins Aug 11 in the morning.

📍We are located at Sarana Springs near Chatsworth, Ontario. Approximately a 2.5 hour drive North from Toronto, on a 171 acre nature sanctuary.


• All meals, catered and served on-site with local ingredients. (we cook 1 of our meals together!)
• Three nights of camping in the pine forest that we call 'The Nest'
• 1 Online Call scheduled post-Yana Retreat to help you integrate.
• Access to our Yana Community Facebook group with all past participants and faculty

• Digital resources and recorded lectures for you to revisit anytime you need
• Ongoing invites to free meetups, classes and potlucks with the Yana community


Our Yana Retreat has an offset cost thanks to the generosity of our donors, the Lang Family Foundation.
Payment Plans are welcome.
Please see our payment options below. Full payments or deposits can be made directly through the registration form, by e-transfer or my cheque. Full details are in our registration form.

 If due to your financial circumstances, a scholarship to attend would make this possible for you, please fill out an application here, or message our Yana lead, Maxine to explore your options. Maxine@saranainstitute.org

Full Fee, one-time payment:

$495 (CAN)

This includes all meals.
This fee has been supported through donations from the Lang Family Foundation.

You can pay directly through the application form, send an e-transfer, or write a cheque.

Payment Plans:

Payment plans can be arranged monthly, bi-monthly from the time of your registration until August 2023. Fill out your registration here and indicate a payment plan is needed and Maxine will reach out to you to set up your schedule.
A minimum deposit of $100 is required.


If you want to come, we want you here. If a bursary would be a huge relief and get you to the retreat, please indicate this in your registration form. We will be in touch with you to set up our next steps to support your attendance. We have funding to offer partial bursaries.

What is Yana?
Yana is Sarana Institute's young adult-focused program serving those aged 18-35. For us, it stands for 'Young Adult Nature Awareness', and yāna is also a Buddhist term meaning 'vehicle'. Our intention is to provide a “vehicle” to ride the waves of life with these skills: mindfulness, compassion, nature connection, and food awareness.

The Yana program offers online mindfulness and compassion courses, workshops, resources, our Yana Retreat in August.

Tell Me More...

Do I have to between the ages of ~18 - 35?
With parental consent, we have accepted age 17. This retreat is designed for young adults who want to harness the powerful time of their 20s and early 30s in creating life long changes. If you're over the age of 35 by a couple of years we are happy to consider your application. We also have more programs to support a diversity of ages - see here.  

I don’t have a tent. Can I borrow camping equipment?
Yes! Please contact Maxine to ask questions about this or indicate on your registration form that you would appreciate camping equipment. We always do our best to coordinate needs with the greater community.  Maxine@saranainstitute.org

I don’t think I can afford this all at once. Do you do payment plans? Yes. A $100 minimum deposit is required with your registration. Fill out your registration here and indicate that you want to set up a payment plan. Maxine will be in touch with next steps. We also have a bursary fund available if more financial aid would make this retreat possible for you. Please indicate this need in your registration along with what you think you can contribute, and we'll be in touch shortly to set up next steps.

What happens if I register and something comes up? Is there a cancellation policy? Yes! Click here to view all of Sarana Institute’s cancellation policies.  

I have no way to get there. Do you arrange pick up?
We do not arrange long distance transportation for participants but we will do everything we can to support carpooling. Every year we have participants who carpool with each other! There is an option in the registration form to indicate if you can provide a ride from the GTA or if you would appreciate one. Though we do our best to help coordinate rideshares, getting to and from the retreat is your responsibility.

I have a restricted diet, intolerances or allergies. Will I be taken care of?
Absolutely. We work creatively with special menus to provide allergy-friendly meals. Our menu is not strictly vegan or vegetarian but we provide many options for plant-powered proteins and gluten-free. We also utilize the permaculture garden on site. 

How off-grid are we talking? What if I need to use my phone?
We encourage you to take a digital detox during the retreat. However, we won't restrict your need to contact someone. There can be limited cell reception on the land depending on your service provider.

What do I need to bring?
After registration, we will send you a list of what is needed along with a reminder in our official welcome letter in July. Long answer short: whatever you personally need to be camping for 5 nights knowing that all your meals will be taken care of.  

I hate bugs. Are there bugs? Yay! There are bugs. But in August there are fewer bugs than July! The best remedy is layered clothing, bug spray, and patience.

Any other questions? Feel free to reach out to our Program Coordinator Maxine: Maxine@saranainstitute.org 

Sarana Team is an intergenerational community. We draw from the fields of mindfulness, meditation, expressive arts, yoga, somatics, nervous system health, permaculture, holistic nutrition, deep ecology, psychotherapy, and Buddhist chaplaincy, and secular and spiritual traditions alike.

Andrew Blake

Mindfulness + Compassion Training Director, Sarana Institute Co-Founder, Faculty

Andrew brings his rich background, knowledge, and experience into teaching the inner work of our retreat. His sessions have a foundation in his work as a Psychotherapist, Buddhist Chaplain and experienced Mindfulness Practitioner and Educator.

Andrew also pulls from his background of Indigenous teachings, specifically his time spent studying with Ven. Dhyani Ywahoo. Read more here.

Angie Di Iorio Blake

Yana Founder, Sarana Institute
Co-Founder, Faculty

Angie's our founder of Yana.
Her inspiration for developing a Youth Mindfulness and Nature Awareness program grows from her passion for gardening, years of living off the grid and her concern for the future generations. Inspired by years of Buddhist study and practice, training and professional work in the fields of awareness through movement, and engaging Systems approaches and Permaculture, she is passionate about building an inter-generational community.  Her vision is to support youth and adults to connect more deeply through mindfulness and nature awareness practices to their inner self and to our interconnectedness with the earth and natural world. In addition to her guiding role at the Institute, Angie is director of Sarana Springs Refuge and Sanctuary near Owen Sound, ON. Read more here.

Maxine Iharosy

Yana Director, Faculty

As our Program Director, Maxine is with you every step of the way. She brings her curiosity, her background of nervous system education, facilitation, coaching, and love of the natural world into her role as a faculty member and mentor. Maxine has been studying with Sarana Institute and is a dedicated student to the teachings of mindfulness and compassion, and how we relate to our inner and outer landscapes. Read more here.

Naty Howard
Yana Faculty

Naty brings her background as an intuitive healer and spiritual mentor to the Yana Retreat, offering wisdom and teachings around the importance of ceremony and ritual in our lives.  As a photojournalist and artist, she witnessed the power of shamanic lineages in the Venezuelan Amazon, India, Nepal and Canada. Naty is a Shamanic Practitioner, Ayurvedic Coach, Yoga, Breathwork, Meditation and Pachakuti Mesa Tradition Mystery School Sanctioned Teacher, Artist and Author of Your Mighty Inner Healer.
Read more about Naty here.

Goldie Sherman
Yana Faculty

Goldie is our resident artist and master of laughter. With over 50+ years as a mixed media and pottery artist, dancer and educator with a trove of creative gifts, Goldie sees her artistic role as an agent of transformation, where she explores with others creative methods that are playful, powerful and accessible. Read more here.

Additional Mentors and Volunteers

Our Yana retreat would not be the same without the presence of guest mentors and volunteers. Mentors offer additional support for our participants and volunteers help keep everything running smoothly for our time together.
We are so thankful for this web of community support.

For a full weekend, you will be immersed in nature, supported by community, and guided by our faculty and mentor team. Camping out on 171 acres, surrounded by meadow, wetland and forest, you will meet your truth and feel the web of support.

“The most important thing I’ve gotten out of my experience here is the amount I’ve gotten to know myself, and been given the opportunity here to do that… I don’t think I’ve had the opportunity before. And it’s been something I will never forget, that I think will change my life forever.” - Tessa Denison, Yana Retreat 2017

More voices from previous retreat participants:

A Message From Our Retreat Directors:  

We are so excited you're on this page! Welcome.  

The Yana retreat has been designed to bring awareness of self, other and nature to the forefront of how we live our lives. We've combined inner and outer nourishment practices to support participants to develop their inner resilience. This inner spark to thrive is needed in order to meet the challenges we are currently facing in the world. And rise to the opportunities! 

Yana provides vital skills to help stabilize the mind and to explore the relationship of mind, body, and outer world. We learn how to handle emotions and difficult thoughts with awareness, to direct and sustain attention, cultivate compassion, and to listen deeply and communicate authentically to one another. Participants learn nature-awareness practices through both camping in nature, and by learning the skills of observation, identification, and overcoming our fears and discomfort. We examine our relationship with food, not only by spending time in the vegetable garden, weeding, planting, building soil, harvesting food, etc, but by cooking and learning food preparation skills. An important element of food sovereignty is giving young adults resources in meeting the challenges of climate change and addressing our relationship with globalization of food. i.e., where does our food comes from? What nourishes me? An integral element of our curriculum is building community by fostering mentorship, especially intergenerationally (all ages), and embracing cross-cultural ceremonies and the arts.  

We are so thrilled to bring you YEAR FOUR of Yana! We cannot wait to meet the faces of 2022!  

-Angie Di Iorio Blake, Co-Founder of Sarana Institute, and Maxine Iharosy, Director of Yana Programs

About Sarana Institute 

Sarana Institute is a registered charity that offers mindfulness training and resources to deepen compassion in caring for self, other and the earth.  

 Sarana means “refuge or sanctuary” in Pali (an ancient language from the time of the Historical Buddha). For us, sarana means where we draw inner or spiritual strength and meaning. A place of refuge is both an inner state or an outer place that reminds us of our wholeness and oneness with life and all creatures.  

Our CoFounders, (Revs.) Angie & Andrew Blake ‘s inspiration for Sarana Institute is to connect inter-generational community and share mindfulness and compassion as essential inner resources in living more gently with ourselves, eachother and the natural world.