Yoga Theme for 2017

The Yoga Theme for 2017 is the yogic code of Svadhyaya - SELF-RULE. 

This year is about creatively expanding our freedom of experience. We are going to be taking some major adventures with ourselves, our experiences of things and of one another.

We are going to be called to exercise our autonomy. Expand our definition of freedom far beyond ourselves. Beyond how we’ve understood it before.

It is sincere practice of the well-rounded principles of yoga that will get us to this freedom. Yogic principles such as the Niyama, inner observance, or yoga code, of Svadhyaya so crucial for 2017.

We know by now yoga isn't just about just hot tricks, flexible limbs or powerful physical skills.

But what is it fully about? And how can yoga meaningfully impact our lives?

Yoga's about so many things. Among them growth towards freedom. Our own and others.

Nothing outside of us, not politics, not relationships,  will save us. Only by applying our own yogic powers of growth can we do that.

Svadhyaya. Sva in Sanskrit means self. Dhyaya derives from a Sanskrit word meaning study, understand, or rule. So self-study. Knowledge of self in order to take 100% responsibility and be fully in rulership of one’s own life.

I’d love to share from the wisdom of one of the masters of Svadhyaya, who has shaped how we understand modern yoga.

While living in india for a year, I spent some time in Bapu Kuti, Gandhi's ashram. Here we woke early, worked, ate, walked, worked and ate again. We sang prayers and meditated in the evenings. A simple life of integrity in thought, word and deed. This is what Gandhi stood for. He lived yoga to the core. 

And the story goes that village people would come to visit him for all sorts of requests. 

Once, a woman came, desperate, as her son was eating sweets all day and night. "Please Mahatma,” for great one was what many called Gandhi, she implored, "tell my son not to eat sweets. It's not healthy and I think it's going to kill him." 

"Beta," he replied, "Come back in a month. Bring him with you."

"Oh it's so hard to wait that long. But I will." The village woman said.

A month later she returned with the boy. 

When she introduced her child to Gandhi he looked him kindly. He talked about self rule, Svadyaya, and the importance of it in our own lives but also in removing unjust British rule. Then he looked the boy in the eyes and said "you must stop eating so many Sweets. It's undermining your Svadyaya, making you sick and also making your mother very unhappy." 

And the boy said, "Oh, ok. Yes, I understand. I will change, Mahatma" And he went out to play. 

"Oh thank you great one," the village woman cried. As she was leaving she turned back, and with tears streaming down her face she couldn’t help but question him, "Excuse me but why did we have to wait a whole month for this?"

Gandhi replied, "A month ago I was still eating sweets."

These codes are powerful.

While living at the ashram, one of the many powers of yoga I learned deeply was Svadyaya. SELF-RULE. We no longer rely on outside forces to give us what we need.

Another example of the power of the inner codes of yoga taking force in the world is the story of khadi, or home-spun cloth.

Instead of rely on the up-marked British suppliers for cotton clothes, the Indians realized they could simply spin their own cotton and wear that. This was a way of showing independence - financial, psychological, fashionable.

Khadi, or homespun clothes, became the fashion wear of the day - a symbol of Self-Rule and resistance to an unjust regime whose time had come.

So for 2017 let’s explore our own yoga of self-rule.

Pick an area of growth. 

It could be diet, like Gandhi’s young visitor. It could be personal strength.  Loving relationships. Courage. Standing up to injustice. Personal and political freedom. Caring for others. Confidence. Personal power.

Whatever it is pick that area and commit to it as an area of yogic growth for yourself for 2017.

Apply Svadyaya. Self study.

Explore it.

See where you are controlled by this area.

See where you can take your power back.

My own area of growth is freedom of thought. Not giving in to pleasing people, doing what is expected, or being always liked. But doing and saying what is authentic to me and my truth. Speaking up in the face of injustice.

So our Yoga Challenge for this coming year is not a physical challenge. It’s a yoga challenge of GROWTH.

So share about your Growth Yoga for 2017. What is your SELF-RULE?

How will you explore Svadyaya and express your yoga of Freedom and Growth?

Take action now and let us know what you are committing to grow.

For support and inspiration join this group and share: What's your Growth Yoga for 2017?

Susanna Barkataki, M.Ed. E-YRT 500, is founder of Bliss Well Institute. She explores and teaches leadership for wellness and human potential. Join the adventure through a Yoga Teacher Training or one of her other upcoming courses at Bliss Well Institute.

She is a board member of Yoga Service Council, member of the Yoga and Body Image Coalition Team and a viral Wellness blogger. She is thrilled to unveil some new and exciting adventures in Wellness coming your way in 2017! Keep your eyes open for the possibilities and adventure!  You can learn more at www.SusannaBarkataki.com.

This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.