This is part four of a series exploring the ten principles of yoga philosophy, also known as the yamas and niyamas. Come and explore this fascinating ancient wisdom with me. Experience how things start manifesting automatically when you start implementing these principles into your daily life.
Whether you practice yoga postures or not, these are all ways in which we can help ourselves and the world around us to be an even better place.
Asteya, because You are Beyond Greed
Asteya is a Sanskrit word that means ‘non-stealing’.
Non stealing or simply abstaining from taking things that are not yours. I assume that most people do not compulsively steal items from stores, etc. so zooming in on the non-physical realm is much more interesting.
As such, we can steal another’s time, reputation, liberty, joy, pleasure, happy anticipation vibes. And, by our behavior now, we can also steal from future generations when it comes to our environment and resources.
Patanjali doesn’t explain how exactly the yamas and the niymas should be brought into practice, hence why every teacher could emphasize a different aspect in them.
The yamas and niyamas are all interconnected.
When we steal, not only are we being dishonest, which links back to satya (truthfulness) but there’s violence involved as well (ahimsa or non-violence) as someone or something will be caused some kind of harm by taking what is not yours.
By staying away from any ethical norm or code, and seeing this on a much larger scale, we remember what is truly important.
Let’s explore how non-stealing might pop up in your daily life and on your yoga mat.
I’m late, I’m sorry!
When you are late, you steal the time from the one who is waiting for you. As this person could have done something else in the meanwhile or spend some more time in another activity before meeting you.
Without judging whether it is wrong or right to be late, leaving out the good old ‘respect issue’ as well, fact is that time was stolen.
Being late is also a violent affaire as the first thing that you have to do when you do arrive is excuse yourself. Saying hello without an excuse might potentially feel better. Especially when you feel the need to convince the waiting party that your being late has nothing to do with your eagerness to see them.
You could have the most brilliant excuse, but your excuses could make the situation even more violent. Some people are experts in reverse psychology when being late.
I’m late because I couldn’t choose which flowers to pick because you are so special and I spent too long in the flower shop. How can you be upset?
Don’t you like the flowers? It took me an hour to choose them!
However you flip the situation, fact is that you stole time from the one who was waiting for you.
No! Don’t do that !
In most cases, when we give ‘advice’ to others, what you really do is stealing someone’s enthusiasm or joy. Of course, we hush our ego with saying that it is in their best interest that they follow what we say but is it really?
Imagine that you tell one of your friends that you are going on a yoga retreat to Morocco. What might happen is that you immediately get a little rant about that person’s own experiences in Morocco…
How incredibly busy the Jemaa El Fnaa square in Marrakech was. That they got lost in the souks in Fez and almost fainted in the Sahara. And oh yes, they got that beautiful carpet in Tangiers.
So, you should do this, see that, make sure that you do not … and … and … and…
Not very interesting when for your first time to Morocco, you’re going to a yoga retreat in Essaouira and not visit any of the places he mentioned. Even less interesting when hearing the stories, your enthusiasm on even going started decreasing.
‘Why and where in Morocco?’, could have opened up a very different conversation.
You can usually notice when you have stolen someone’s joy if they stop elaborating on their story or, when they get quite defensive as they feel they need to defend their choice.
Some people are energy vampires and they have no idea why that is.
When you are talking more than that you are listening, that might give you a little hint. When you are complaining more than giving thanks, there could be a clue.
Listening is not just ‘not talking’, true listening means that you are allowing for what someone else says, to change you!
Without any judgment, without jumping to conclusions: simply listening to what the other person is telling you. Sometimes people just need to tell you something and there is no need whatsoever for you to solve the problem or share your opinion.
Simply check in: Did this person ask for my opinion?
Stealing in Your Yoga Class
Whilst you are reading, right here and now, are you still here?
The Buddha said, “Be where you are . . . otherwise you will miss most of your life.”
When your attention is not where you are, you steal from yourself the experience of being alive in that moment. If you do that most of the time, you will miss your life.
If, during your class, you’re thinking about what happened before class or what might happen after class, you are stealing your own quality time. You are not there.
Learning how to be in the present by being in the present, to be in the now.
What time is it?
Now, the time is Now.
TO DO: Dare to Dream and set Intentions
If you’re committed to lifting your life towards your full potential, I have a little assignment for you.
By not dreaming, we steal away the pleasure that dreaming can bring.
We also hijack potential growth because if you can’t dream it….
I have been giving this assignment for years and as I read so many books, I honestly can’t remember who to give credit to for this one. It slipped to the background but by reading Brendon Burchard’s latest book, I was reminded of the idea and I tweaked it a little bit.
- Write down the names of the people you VALUE and LOVE and the ones you WORK with the most. (Partner, family members, friends, team members, …)
- Imagine that in 15 years, there’s a party in your honor (you are very alive and kicking!).
Each person is describing WHY they love and respect you.
They can say just three words to summarize the interactions they had with you in life.
What would you want those three words to be?
- Next time you’re with each of those people, approach your TIME with them as an opportunity to DEMONSTRATE those three qualities.
Challenge yourself to BE that person NOW.
Do this and enjoy the results!
Thanks for reading, I would love to hear your feedback and experiences with asteya in your daily life! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate asking via email.
Rachel Bonkink holds a Masters Degree in Commercial Sciences, has studied Traditional Chinese Medicine and thrives on teaching yoga and yoga philosophy classes. She has been a life coach for over 10 years and loves spending time by the beach in Morocco. She’s the owner of Revealing Vajra, a leading yoga retreat company. In the past seven years Rachel has organized, marketed and hosted over 60 of her own world wide yoga retreats. At the moment, she is writing a book on how to bring the yoga philosophy into daily life.