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Asteya, known as the third practice from the Yamas, or social code of ethics as described in yoga philosophy, translates from Sanskrit as “non- stealing.” For most of us, this is a pretty easy practice. Don’t take what isn’t yours.

However, as with most yoga lessons there is an undercurrent that sometimes proves much more challenging. Physical objects aren’t the only things stolen. We can also steal someone’s time, steal the limelight, and steal someone else’s news. We can also steal from ourselves.

The practice of yoga itself (on and off the mat) asks us to step back with an objective eye, to watch ourselves and our actions as a witness. In turn, we become more conscious, more present and more discerning.

When we take others for granted, or expect people to do things for us or act in a specific way, we are stealing their autonomy. We are stealing their power to be who they are or need to be. We see this in gender equality issues as well as right across the entire social divide. Again, Asteya has the capacity to be so much greater than its simple translation.

How do you feel when you are about to make that big family announcement and the one person you entrusted your secret to belts it out before you get a chance? Or, when you work just as hard on a project as your colleague, but because they are more extroverted than you, they take all the credit?

Reflect on how we steal from ourselves. Every time we think we aren’t good enough, smart enough, strong enough, fill in the blank enough… we are stealing from ourselves. We are stealing the opportunity to rise into our greatness. Every time we don’t ask for help, don’t take that chance, don’t speak our mind, we are stealing power away from our self. So really, steal that extra cookie from the break room, because we have bigger issues to work on.

How can we practice Asteya? Meditation is key. Slowing down, becoming fully present and conscious in the moment will help us to see with clarity. It will help us to see the bigger picture. Take a few minutes each day
to sit in stillness and follow your breath. An ancient guru once said, the less time you have to meditate—the more time you should take to meditate.

Meditation slows the world down and helps quiet our mind. It increases our reaction time so that we can also make choices based on logic. A beautiful mantra to follow when meditating for the practice of Asteya is “So Ham” translated to “I am that,” or essentially, I am enough—and that you are! Trust in yourself, be present, be conscious of the world around you and you will have all you need.


More Insight: You might also enjoy this inspiring article also by Lisa on finding compassion.

Author: Lisa Greenbaum, E-RYT 500 and C-IAYT yoga therapist, has worked with countless individuals by using yoga to release trauma, find ease from chronic pain and tension and develop a deeper connection to Self: mind, body and spirit. She has over 750 hours of yoga education and logged 4000+ teaching hours. She is also a certified fitness instructor and personal trainer with canfitpro, and a Women in Fitness Association (WIFA) Global Ambassador.


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