In yoga philosophy, the yamas serve as a code of ethics that guide us through everyday life. We’ve previously explored ahimsa and satya, so we can now bring our discussion to the third yama, which is asteya. In English, asteya means “non-stealing,” but what is the principle of asteya?
As its name suggests, asteya emphasizes that one must not steal or have the intention of stealing. Whether this involves stealing a material object, invading and destroying a relationship, or even claiming another’s intellectual property, asteya reminds us not to take anything that isn’t ours.
On a deeper level, though, asteya brings to light what truly lies underneath the act or thought of stealing–and that is simply the attitude of lack. When we hold onto the belief that our lives are in a state of lack, we begin to envy and despise others. And when this envy grows and festers, we become more disposed towards stealing.
So how can we avoid this? Below are 4 tips on how to practice asteya and live more abundantly:
1. Appreciate your body for its strengths and limitations.
When it comes to practicing yoga, avoid comparing yourself to others. On social media, for example, you may find yourself comparing your body to that of an athlete or a flexible gymnast.
On the mat, you may end up looking at your more advanced classmate, feeling discouraged, and wishing that you had their body instead of the body that you have.
Bear in mind that each body is unique. In line with ahimsa, practice self-compassion and remember that your body has its own strengths and limitations, and that your body is worth celebrating no matter what. When you see that your body is abundant in its own capacities and capabilities, you are able to break free from that mindset of lack.
2. Practice gratitude in your relationships.
There is no such thing as a perfect family, friendship, or romantic relationship. This can lead us to hurt our loved ones, hold grudges, and even covet the spouses and partners of others.
While making compromises, healing, and setting boundaries in relationships are valuable, try to practice mindfulness and gratitude in your relationships.
Instead of feeling annoyed at your parents or siblings, examine ways on how to hold space for them and meet their needs. If you find yourself constantly complaining about your partner, focus on their positive traits. Then, remember that their love language is unique.
With awareness, recognize the abundance of love across your different relationships. Receiving love openly is just as important as giving love, and it all starts with actively practicing gratitude.
3. Reflect on your relationship with material wealth.
Do you always feel like you never have enough money? Are you overly stingy with money? Conversely, do you spend too much? Many of us actually have a damaged relationship with money, and this manifests in the way we save and spend.
Healing your relationship with money is a journey, but one way to start is to see it with neutrality. The principle of asteya reminds us that any emotion that we feel towards money comes from ourselves, our personal experiences, and cultural attitudes–not necessarily from money itself.
As you slowly detach from these attitudes and emotions, you can slowly start to see money as simply a tool and not a mysterious, powerful concept that controls you.
Once you start healing your emotions toward money, you’ll see how it is abundant in your life. When it comes to paying for bills and other necessities, tell yourself that your money is in constant circulation.
When it comes to spending for little luxuries, be joyful, empowered, and proud that you can afford these. And when it comes to making money, find ethical, sustainable, and smart ways to maintain your cash flow.
4. Trust that you do have time.
We often tell ourselves that we never have enough time, or that there are not enough hours in the day. The truth is, it’s not about how much time you actually have, but how well you’re able to manage it.
For example, maybe you haven’t met your workout goals because you often feel too tired to go to the gym after a busy day at the office. If this is the case, maybe set out your workout clothes the night before and go out for a quick run before you clock in.
If you feel that you don’t spend enough time with your child, consider asking your partner other loved ones for help in managing household tasks and other responsibilities. That way, you’ll be able to bond with your child more.
Managing your time wisely, saving and expending your energy when necessary, as well as asking for help from your support system are good ways to heal your relationship with time and also see the opportunities of each hour in your day.
So what is the principle of asteya? The principle of asteya is more than just a reminder not to steal the possessions of others. Asteya, rather, is a reminder that your life is abundant in love, money, time, and all things valuable. Asteya reminds us that our lives are worth celebrating!