Asteya, the third Yama

Asteya means non-stealing. We know it to mean not to take what isn’t ours. If there is ever a questions of this, we have to stop and consider the action we’re about to take. But the subtle applications of asteya show up in all areas of our life, on and off the mat. The less obvious aspects of non-stealing are challenging, and often we have to learn how to see these patterns in order to change them.  Usually, stealing in any form emerges from fear.  Whether it’s a fear of not having enough or the fear of not being enough, the roots of fear need to be found before we understand and live asteya.

One of the many outward expressions of fear is jealousy.  When we’re jealous, we feel resentful of others who have what we think we want.  Envy is wishing we could possess the qualities, experiences, or items that another has.  Jealousy and envy often lead us to take what isn’t freely ours.  It is mentioned in some of the old texts that you will make major advances if you stay true to your practice but jealousy and envy will deter you from moving forward. Another consequence of a craving for what another has can be injury to ourself. For example, challenging poses require the proper foundations of work to accomplish. If we try to push ourselves to make them happen without taking the proper steps we can cause harm to our own bodies.

In our day-to-day lives, non-stealing means that we do not take from others on small or big levels and to respect the planet itself by giving back.  When we pass on the teachings of our lineage, we should honor and acknowledge our teachers.  If we use an idea of a co-worker’s, we need to give them credit.  When we take of the fruits of the earth at every meal, a moment of recognition and gratitude is in order.   The Yoga Sutra of Pantanjali teaches us that “to one established in asteya, all wealth comes.” Most of us have abundance in our lives and don’t recognize it – perhaps in material possessions, but additionally in health, love, beauty, clean air and water, fresh food to eat. 

Asteya is learning to appreciate the natural abundance all around us.

Warrior 2 Virabhadrasana II yoga teacher trainingf
New teachers Brittany Young and Stephanie Ujiiye in Warrior 2  (Sanskrit: वीरभद्रासन, Vīrabhadrāsana). Practice the yamas on and off the mat!

Generosity is the heart of asteya. When we feel grateful and fulfilled with what we have and who we are, we find that we have a lot to offer others. Gratitude allows aloha and love to flow from us naturally. Becoming generous and thoughtful beings is at the core of the practice of non-stealing. When we practice asteya, we cultivate a trust and a peaceful mind… and there is no greater wealth than a peaceful mind

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