Asteya – Non-stealing
The 3rd Yama is simple, don’t steal. In its simplest form, Asteya asks that we not take what does not belong to us. While most of us wouldn’t be categorized as a thief, this yogic principle draws our attention to more subtle ways in which we rob not only others but ourselves, on and off the yoga mat. Asteya allows us to peek into the silent ways we take that can affect how we feel about ourselves and ultimately how we act inwardly and outwardly in the world.
For instance, when we spread ourselves too thin we are robbing ourselves of energy to do the things we really want to do and/or compromise our own health for the sake of too many commitments. Learn to set healthy boundaries around your schedule, learn to say no.
Another example is when we overspend and find ourselves overconsuming food or material things. In this way, we are first robbing ourselves of money because we are now needing to pay more for something through interest on our credit cards and we are robbing the earth of resources that have had to be used to keep up to the extra demand of materialism. When we are overindulgent, we are literally stealing from our future as the earth cannot sustain itself from the amount we are taking. The next time you are shopping ask yourself “is this a need or a want?” “Is this the best use of my resources?”
We also often steal time. One way we steal time from ourselves is when we waste it on things such as social media. Have you ever spent time complaining or procrastinating? We waste other people’s time when we overstay our welcome or ask someone to do something that we can do ourselves (like look up information on the internet instead of bothering someone who is busy).
In the world of yoga we see things as a constant flow of giving and taking, so to practice Asteya we look to have an equal exchange between what we are consuming or taking from the planet and others and what we contribute back into the world. This week look honestly at how you use your resources, how you spend your time, and what you expect from others. Pay close attention to simple things like leaving the lights on, wasting water, overspending, and overeating. With your new awareness of Asteya take one small step towards making the world a place of abundance for everyone.
- “Enter, stranger, but take heed
Of what awaits the sin of greed,
For those who take, but do not earn,
Must pay most dearly in their turn.
So if you seek beneath our floors
A treasure that was never yours,
Thief, you have been warned, beware
Of finding more than treasure there.”
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone