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The 5 Yamas: Asteya (Non-Stealing)

Asteya is the 3rd Yama and means non-stealing. There are obvious ways of stealing and there are not-so-obvious ways we steal.There are many ways we unknowingly steal on and off of the yoga mat. As with the other limbs, a good place to identify and practice this yama is on our yoga mat. Then we can take those concepts to our life off of the mat.

How can we practice non stealing on the yoga mat?

We steal from ourselves when we don’t breath to full capacity in our asanas. Not taking full breaths steals time spent in each asana. It also robs us of an opportunity to build our lung capacity and work about 4 times as many muscles then when taking a regular breath. We also can’t fully inhale if we don’t fully exhale. We steal the opportunity to empty the lungs out and completely detox - 70% of our detoxing comes from exhaling.

We can practice Asteya by making the most of our time while we are on the mat practicing. Stay connected to the breath, bandhas and drishti. Refrain from working in a half-assed way by just going through the motions, and instead explore how we can make sure every movement and asana is filled with intention.

Stay focused on the task of sadhana, meaning daily spiritual practice. Know that you are here to look inside and not to compare yourself to others. Everything we need, we already have. Striving for what another person has or is doing is stealing that time with yourself for inner reflection.

Work where you are, with zeal, without pushing past healthy boundaries. We want to bring a certain level of enthusiasm to our practice while honoring our limits. You should work with your asanas at about 80%. If we alway practice at 100%, the day we practice 103% that 3% is injury. Don’t steal from yourself by not being present and then pushing yourself past your boundaries - this will inevitably lead to injury.

Be on time for your yoga session. Your teacher is waiting for you and that time is dedicated to your yoga practice. Don’t steal time from yourself or your teacher by being late.

Spreading ourselves too thin is a way that we steal from ourselves because it only allows us to skim the surface of and not fully submerge ourselves in things we find most important.

When we don’t take risks or when we doubt ourselves we are robbing ourselves of life experiences whether we succeed or fail. Don’t be afraid to fail. Failing is how we learn. Our most valuable lessons come from failing.

Like mentioned above about being late for your yoga session, be efficient with your time and respect other people's time by not being late. Give yourself plenty of time so you’re not rushing and enjoy every not rushed moment. When we run late we steal our peace by being in a frenzy. We steal others' time not only by being late but keeping them longer than they planned. Other people can steal our time in the same way. To prevent this let them know up front what your time restraints are or ask them what theirs are so there is a mutual understanding of the time allotted. We want to make sure we don’t stress other people and they don’t stress us because it steals their and our peace.

Learn to enjoy even mundane tasks such as washing the dishes or cleaning the bathroom. Find ways to make these moments enjoyable. Maybe listen to music or a podcast and be methodical about the task. Be thorough and appreciative of what you have.

Try not to waste time. I love going on Pinterest and reading ways to be more productive and manage time efficiently. I’m a big fan of the 1-Touch rule. When you come home, put everything in its place right away. The objective is to touch things one time rather than putting it down where it doesn’t belong only to have to move it again later. When you bring the mail in, rather than set it aside for later, open it, and sort it right away. Finding ways to implement the 1-Touch rule wherever you can will save you time in the long run.

Every time we eat we can practice Asteya by not taking what isn't willingly given. We shouldn’t steal the life of another being or milk from a mother whose baby was stolen from her. This is an injustice that we should not participate in. When we do, we also steal from ourselves by poisoning our bodies instead of using that moment to nourish it so we can feel our best and promote a healthy mind and body.

Hoarding or acquiring more than we need is stealing from our personal space. A cluttered environment creates a cluttered mind. We are a society of filling up instead of emptying out. This is a cause of suffering. We try to fill a void with objects instead of digging deep to understand what void we are really trying to fill. This steals our true happiness. Take a look around your living space and ask yourself if someone else can make better use of what you have excess of and donate it to them.

Take some time on your mat contemplating Asteya, then see how you can transfer what you discover to your daily life.There are so many ways we can practice Asteya off of our yoga mat. Expand upon those discoveries wherever you can to truly embrace the 3rd yama, Asteya.

“Mankind’s greed and craving for artificial needs are also stealing” -Gandhi

“Desire or want is the cause for stealing” -Swami Sivananda

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