Yamas are the essential moral principles to practice Yoga. In our western world, we might call these restraints or rules.
Asteya is Non-Stealing. It is the third ethical restraint. Steya means unlawfully taking things that you are not entitled to or that don’t belong to you. Asteya is abstaining from stealing. This refers to possessions, money, materials that are not yours, but can also include stealing; time, energy, ideas, talents, relationships, achievements, successes or even stealing rights or freedoms. When we analyse what motivates us to steal we see that the act is rooted in feeling a lacking of, not enough or there is a feeling of scarcity. Asteya is to abandon the intention, desire to possess or steal from others and oneself.
In order to illustrate the point, we can use the example of Time. Time is important to everyone. Managing not to show up, to be late or run over time is robbing someone and yourself of one of the most valuable commodities we have. Asteya makes us accountable to stick to the agreed schedule whether if it is work, social or family. Or when you are there – work, social or family, you live in the moment, not in the past, future or fantasies or on your phone. When we recognise when we have wandered, not present with those around us, the realisation that you’re being a time thief! Which gives you the opportunity to self-reflect and notice what is between you and being present with those around you. Asteya asks you to ‘be where you are now, not wasting the time.’
Have you ever showed up in a bad mood and your energy stole others good mood or peace? We call this a Joy thief! Or fear stops you from having new experiences and steals a moment where you may deepen your knowledge, love and perspective. This is why we use our Asana practice to see our ‘stuff’ and to be accountable for what arises as an opportunity to learn more so we can go out in our lives skilfully navigating around more challenging things. Practicing Asana we can be impatient and push ourselves to do Asanas that we are not ready yet for, jumping ahead of ourselves and our abilities, risking injury. Remember Ahimsa, Non-Harming? This act of chasing an end goal robs you of the time you need, to learn valuable information within the steps of practice. Or we don’t try new things in practice and steal an opportunity away from you to expand your practice. This is hard as we need Satya, Truthfulness to discern what steps to take and trust that everything you need, lies within you, the source of power, knowledge, love and peace are within you all the time.
Gandhi said, “mankind’s greed and craving for artificial needs is also stealing.” Hoarding material items or having excessive amounts of things is a form of stealing from others less fortunate. Asteya points to a belief that abundance and prosperity will unfold as Karma intends. We practice to connect to the energy that expands our awareness beyond the ‘limited self’ and we feel the vastness of life force. We confidently live with life’s abundance and prosperity, which we feel natural generosity grows and is offered as a result of this connection. Being able to sit in all experiences, to feel what comes up and to do so in a way that is respectful, loving and mindful of the needs of ourselves and those around us.
To practice today, simply remain open, curious and willing to learn, grow and transform…so you can enjoy a life filled with purpose, deep contentment and true freedom.