Asteya is best defined as not taking what is not freely given, or non-stealing. While this may sound very easy to achieve on the surface, as we look a bit deeper, this Yama can be quite challenging to practice.
Asteya means so much more than simply not taking or stealing something from someone else, but includes our desire or want for that which we do not have, which, in turn, drives the need to steal.
As one of Ghandi’s ’11 Vows’ explains, “mankind’s greed and craving for artificial needs is also stealing” – this really helps us to understand the root cause of Asteya…
“I am not enough.”
If we are constantly comparing ourselves to external influences and having the expectation that having the things that we do not have will make us happy, then we are robbing ourselves of happiness in that moment.
And alongside that, on a personal level, the practice of Asteya entails not only not committing theft on a physical level, as mentioned earlier, but also not causing or approving of anyone else doing so – in mind, word or action.
On the level of society, Asteya would be in opposition to exploitation, social injustice and oppression. If you think about it, do you ever contribute to any of these things? With the recent events of the BLM movement, have you practiced Asteya, socially and completely?
Keeping these things in mind, practicing Asteya encourages generosity and overcomes greed. Once you truly encompass this Yama, the universe will certainly permit abundance among you.
How to Practice Asteya
On the mat:
Do not push yourself beyond healthy physical or mental boundaries.
Respect the space of a class. Running late and interrupting a class, or rushing in and throwing down your bags can be disrupting to your fellow practitioners as well as to the energy of the space we all so tenderly create together.
Off the mat:
Do not buy or hoard unnecessary things beyond your means. I am so guilty of this one. I travelled for 9 months with just a backpack and the second I got back I felt the need for more. Try to take check what you have every few months and really question every purchase you make. Do you really need that new jacket just for that one occasion?
Experience life as YOU want. Don’t hold back! Don’t rob yourself of something because you feel fear or embarrassment. Go for it, try it, LIVE!
Well, there you have it. Always remember, you are human. These are guidelines, so just be true to yourself and to the greater good of all beings and you’ll always be on the right path.
Have a wonderful week filled with kindness, laughter, yoga and wine!
Peace, love & light,