Asteya in the literal sense is defined as “non-stealing and naturally, we all want to live in a world where people don’t steal from each other. This phrase asteya is found in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra’s, and as you consider this important practice you quickly learn that is about more than just stealing in the literal and physical form of the word.
Today, we are going to look at asteya and the ways in which you can incorporate this practice into your life every day and how it can help bring YOU more happiness but also make the world a happier place.
Think back to all the times when you were doing something that should have been fun but it wasn’t. Is there anything you could have done to bring more joy back into the moment? It is easy to let external stimulation effect your happiness. We literally steal joy from ourselves because something did not go exactly as planned, or we become obsessed with perfection and forgot to savor the big picture.
So often, we are the cause of our unhappiness. We let people, environments, experiences impact our ability to be happy, we are relying so much on external stimulation rather than dwelling in the pure bliss of being alive, at this very moment. Yoga teaches us to connect with ourselves through mind, body, and spirit and when we think about the concept of asteya in regards to a state of happiness in the world, we are reminded not to steal the pure joy from our lives.
Fear is the new “F” word. While fear from the perspective of evolution and survival is necessary, we are no longer being chased by sabertooth tigers and lions, so some of the fears we face today have evolved because of experiences and past trauma. Unfortunately, we let fear hold us back so significantly that we steal the possibility for good experiences from our lives whether it is personal or professional … we stay in jobs, relationships and situations that don’t serve us because we are afraid of change.
In the book The Universe Has Your Back, by Gabby Bernstein, she says that the presence of fear is really an absence of love. The practice of asteya reminds us not to deny ourselves experiences in life because of fear.
Time is precious, every moment, every day we are here is a gift. So why do so many people steal this precious time from themselves and others? We waste time in bad relationships, habits, friendships and jobs. We make excuses like “I deserve this”, “I can’t do any better”. The mind tells us to stay us where it is safe and comfortable. We waste time feeding ourselves with these negative thoughts which in turns makes us think they are TRUE and keeps us immobile!
- Is it hard to get things done because you have monkey mind pulling you into a hundred different directions?
- Do you spend time thinking about the past, worrying about the future?
- Are you obsessed with your Instagram newsfeed?
The flip side to this is how do you waste other people’s time? Do your actions, behaviors, and habits impact someone close to you, a coworker, partner or child.
- Do you say yes when you should say no?
- Do you overcommit?
- Do you lack integrity?
- Do you schedule meetings and come unprepared?
Of course, not everyone wants to, or can, use a day planner but the practice of asteya is certainly a good reminder to be mindful of how we use our time and how we use other people’s time as well.
Wellness & Self Care?
One of the biggest ways we can practice asteya is how we care for ourselves. Every day we eat poorly, live in excess, skip our yoga practice, forget to meditate and we steal happiness and health from ourselves.
It is easy to say “I don’t have time” when it comes to self-care. It is easy to talk yourself out of that 5 PM Friday yoga class because it has been a long week and you just want to get home. It is easy to skip the gym because you are so worried that you have to have to make the perfect dinner for your family or maybe you eat a poor diet because you don’t take the time to PLAN your meals.
Even in our yoga practice, we might steal progress from ourselves by taking the easy poses, the poses you know how to do, avoiding the challenges. Maybe you rush to class, and never allow your mind to be cleared through the practice but dwelling on other things.
As you review this information we hope it gives you insight into asteya and helps you begin to consider changes and incorporate this yama throughout your life. It will certainly have an impact on how you live and the effect your presence has on the world around you.
The yoga sutra’s are just one of the many aspects of focus of our 200-hour yoga teacher training. Why not check out our 5-hour online course to learn more.