Yana Retreat

A nature escape to find yourself.

 AUGUST 12 - 17, 2022

Join us for 6 days immersed in nature.

August 12th-17th, 2022 at Sarana Springs near Chatsworth, Ontario.

A 5 night, 6 day transformational journey that will help you build a stronger connection with yourself, nature, and those around you.

There is something calling you. It's calling you to step into who you truly are and connect to the world from that place.

This retreat is for anyone aged 18-35 who wants to experience a 'reset' in nature and ground into their authentic self and expression.

With this unique blend of mindfulness and compassion training you will:

  • Explore meditation, movement and expressive arts practices as tools for self-empowerment
  • Tap into your inner wisdom through mindfulness and contemplative practices
  • Learn skills that will help to address unsustainable or unhealthy coping patterns with family members and/or society and ways to help accept or embrace them
  • Equip yourself with inner tools to help you meet and process our climate crisis
  • Tap into your motivation, your compassion and your sovereignty
  • Nourish your body by engaging with your relationship to food
  • Immerse yourself in nature, ceremony and community  

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.

You are not meant to do this work alone.

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” through the skills of mindfulness and compassion to ride through life with inner and outer awareness.

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

Sarana Institute's Yana Retreat runs August 12 - 17th, 2022. We are located at Sarana Springs near Chatsworth, Ontario. Approximately a 2.5 hour drive North from Toronto, on a 171 acre wildlife refuge.

Yana has a foundation of mindfulness, compassion 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 unhealthy patterns that limit your resilience so that you can expand into your potential.

This experiential retreat, uniquely designed for self transformation, helps you see the roots of your patterns and ignite change. This culminates in an optional overnight “inner quest” where you'll contemplate your past and chart a path into your future. It 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.  


Yana Retreat Program Cost


• All meals. Catered and served on-site with local ingredients and prepared by us from the permaculture garden.
• Our Yana Retreat Manual to keep you inspired and resourced.
• 5 nights of camping in a pine forest that we call 'The Nest'
• 2 Online Meetups schedules post Yana Retreat to help you integrate and keep supported.
• Access to our Yana Community Facebook group with all past participants and faculty
• Ongoing invites to free meetups, classes and potlucks with the Yana community

Our Payment Options:

Our Yana Retreat has an offset cost thanks to the generosity of our donors, the Lang Family Foundation.
We offer 2 different options to make this as accessible as possible:

-a full one-time fee
-payment plans

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.

Additional Support:
 If due to your financial circumstances you require an alternative payment plan, please reach out to Maxine, our Yana lead, to see what options are available. No one will be turned away due to funds. If you want to come - we want you here! message: maxine@saranainstitute.org

Full Fee, one time payment

$1450 is now $795

If you have the means to register with the full fee of $795 you can pay directly through the application form, send an e-transfer, or write a cheque.

Payment Plans

We have 2 options for our payment plans. For a payment plan, you will register with an initial suggested deposit of $200, and follow up with monthly payments for whichever you choose:

The 3 part plan:
3 payments of $198
The 5 part plan:
5 payments of $119

To enroll with a payment plan, please fill out the retreat application and select which payment plan option you need. If you need to set up a customized plan outside of these guidelines we are happy to work with you on that and there is an option to indicate this in the registration form.

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 skills 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

 Natalie is the founder of www.therealignranch.com— home to the Mandala Garden.
She is a documentary photographer 
www.natyhoward.com, landscape painter and a HOPE Activist. Natalie supports the realignment of body, mind, heart and soul through a variety of workshops such as Living Raw Food Nutrition, Guided 7 Day Liquid Feasts, Shamanism, Yoga and Mandala Garden Design. Natalie’s intention is to be of service through the process of self-transformation that leads to environmental and personal awareness, self-sustainability and spiritual growth. Read more here

Goldie Sherman
Yana Faculty

Goldie is our resident artist and master of laughter. With over 50+ years as an 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 6 days and 5 nights 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, MIN 2017

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. 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.  

You mention an over night "Inner Quest". What is that exactly? The Inner Quest is a culmination of all our mindfulness, compassion and self reflective practices into one night of ceremony and a deep contemplative process. You have the option during your Inner Quest to stay overnight at your Sit Spot in nature, or stay with mentors by the fire. It is not required that you stay awake for the entire night but it is an option.

I don’t think I can afford this all at once. Do you do payment plans? Yes! We will help you out. We require a minimum of $105 as a deposit. From there, we can arrange a schedule for payment and assist you as much as we can in the process. We also have our Yana Sliding Scale Scholarship, this is a pay-what-you-can option.

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. 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's bugs. But in August there are fewer bugs than July! The best remedy is layered clothing, bug spray, and patience.  

What is the daily schedule like? Do I have free time? You will have some free time to rest and connect with others outside of the curriculum. This is an intensive retreat and we keep the structure is here to support your process. Within our schedule you will also be going on solo hikes or visits to your 'sit spot' - a place in nature you return to each day for contemplations. Here’s an example of a day at Mindfulness in Nature:  

7:00 – 8:00 am: Morning Mindfuless Practice 8:00 – 9:00 am: Breakfast 9:15 am – 9:30 am: Morning check in with the group 9:30 – 12:30 pm: Morning Session 12:30 – 1:00 pm: You time 1:00 – 2:00 pm: Lunch 2:00 – 5:45 pm: Afternoon Session 5:45 – 6:15 pm: You time 6:15 – 7:30 pm: Dinner 7:30 – 9:00 pm: Evening Session 


A unique four part curriculum for full circle learning and integration

MIND Mindfulness + Compassion: Skills, Practice and Training 

BODY Nourishment through food and movement

HEART Nature Awareness and Self Leadership

SPIRIT Explore vision, meaning and purpose

MIND Mindfulness + Compassion Skills, Practice and Training  

  • Learn about the origins and benefits of mindfulness practice through the lens Contemporary Mindfulness, Neuroscience and Eastern/Buddhist perspectives
  • Receive guided instruction to develop a daily practice, focused on experiencing the skills of “everyday” mindful awareness and the power of P.A.U.S.E
  • Gain insight into the nature of your inner thoughts—both the reactive, unhealthy and self-sabotaging ones, as well as those that lead you to well-being and balance
  • Practice mindful listening training with attention to how empathy effects our ability to listen, and how to develop presence so we can truly be there for others
  • Embody self-compassion through understanding how you turn away from suffering in your own life so you can more conciously address your needs  

HEART Nature Awareness + Self Leadership  

  • Learn to meet nature on its own terms, travel daily to your chosen Sit Spot and discover how nature provides you with space to listen to your 'true' voice 
  • Identify, track, immerse, experience, and encounter the plant, animal, mineral, and energies of nature by exploring forest, meadow, wetland, water, and sky
  • Learn leadership skills in community by finding your style, voice, and contributions, by speaking, being heard and listening to others
  • Meet your limiting beliefs and obstacles of being in a group
  • Dig deep to uncover how intergenerational patterns manifest in your life so you can make decisions based on what is truly best for you going forward 

BODY Nourishment with Food and Movement

  • Study about the garden in a permaculture-designed mandala garden and work in the vegetable evolution from compost, soil, seed, weed, cultivation, and harvest
  • Engage in daily movement rituals inspired by Yoga and Qi Gong, facilitated by instructors on staff
  • Consider our current food crisis world-wide and how our relationship to food is intimately connected to climate change, sustainability and well-being
  • Create and collaborate around the joy of cooking and nourishment while exploring vegetarian, vegan, raw, and international cuisines
  • Consider how the “four elements” that make up life—Earth, Water, Fire and Air—can sustain life or can destroy life, depending on our relationship with them. 

SPIRIT Explore Vision, Meaning and Purpose An integral element of the program is building our relationship to our purpose and then joining with community, fostering mentorship, relationship and friendships, as well as embracing cross-cultural ceremonies and the arts. 

  • Journaling, Expressive Arts and time at your Sit Spot provides space for unscripted self-reflection, where you can really practice listening to yourself
  • We will journey around the traditional medicine wheel exploring the five elements–earth, water, fire, air, and space–where we explore these elements both as emotions and states and as forces of life
  • Explore concepts for self understanding shared by many spiritual traditions 
  • Contemplative reflection is a skill that is born from mindfulness, where you learn to listen inwardly, to cultivate greater kindness towards our limitations and weaknesses, and root into deepest aspirations and intentions.  
  • Exploring a variety of ritual practices such as water and fire ceremonies, the retreat allows each participant to travel “full circle” in learning who they are and what it may take to become the person they wish to be.
  • Experience an optional ‘Inner Quest’ as an all night self-reflection at your ‘sit spot’ or by the fire circle. This Inner Quest is a symbolic and transformational evening that converges all our self awareness practices into one memorable night. 


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.