the barn

yasodhara ashram converts its old cow barn into a state-of-the-art, energy-efficient dormatory

photos by Charlie Edmonds

Standing large above a lush green pasture on the eastern shore of Kootenay Lake, Yasodhara Ashram’s old barn has a spectacular view of the water and surrounding mountains. Perhaps this view is one reason why the Ashram decided to turn the old home for cows into a 3800 square foot, energy efficient residence with classrooms and office space.  

Now a barn in name only, the eco-friendly building is the result of 11 months of work by local contractors and Karma Yogis like me (people visiting the Ashram who participate in selfless service).  

The Ashram made the decision to rebuild the barn last August, hoping to keep as much of the original structure as possible. But the barn had a lot more organic character than just square and level lines, so we had to constantly step back and remove our ideas of how we thought the building should look, and let the building take its own shape.  

One idea that never changed was that this building should represent the ideals of sustainable living and practicality that the Ashram promotes. From the geo-thermal heating system that warms in the winter and cools in the summer, to the low-e windows (short for low-emittance, these are windows constructed to reduce energy loss through the glass), low-flow toilets and energy efficient lighting, it is amazing the building has become so forward-thinking from what it once was. 

As a yoga study and retreat center, the Ashram brought forward some of its core values in re-creating “The Barn”, using environmentally-aware products, and thus reducing the ecological footprint while also saving approximately $5000 in annual energy costs.

It’s the middle of July now, and inside the barn the beds are made and there are name tags on doors for each guest arriving for this year’s Teacher Training course. The barn conversion project was a great learning experience for all involved, and the results are truly inspiring.

Charlie Edmonds is a Karma Yogi at Yasodhara Ashram, and was the Youth Intern on the barn re-construction project. This is his first piece for ascent online.

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