Embracing Asteya in your Yoga Practice: Cultivating Non-Stealing

Do you sometimes catch yourself saying, “I am not good enough”? I do – on a regular basis. Actually, it’s surprising how frequently my self-doubt kicks in: not only in moments of challenges but also (or especially) in moments of comparison, criticism and rejection. Delve into the concept of Asteya in your practice, an integral Yama in yoga philosophy, emphasizing the ethical practice of non-stealing.

This article explores how Asteya transcends physical theft, fostering a mindset of honesty and integrity that enriches both personal growth and societal harmony. Learn how to apply Asteya in everyday life and yoga practice for a more mindful and ethical journey.

Visual explaining the definition of Asteya

Asteya in Yoga Practice: What does this have to do with the third yama of asteya, non-stealing?

Stealing is the act of taking something from someone else without their permission. The compulsion to steal something emerges primarily due to a lack of our capacity to independently generate what we desire. When we experience a sense of insufficiency in our lives, we start to look for something to fill our inner ’emptiness, often perceiving others as holders of what we long for.

If fears and self-doubt lead to dissatisfaction within ourselves, we tend to compare ourselves with other people around us – with a tendency to steal what is not rightfully ours: material things but also other resources like time, ideas, joy, energy or peace.

Some thoughts on this…

Some thoughts on Asteya from Deborah Adele’s book “The Yamas & Niyamas – Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice”: When we compare ourselves to others, we either find ourselves lacking, which makes us feel cheated, or we find ourselves superior, which leaves us feeling arrogant. When we are engaged in the joy and challenge of building ourselves, we automatically serve the world rather than steal from it.”

If we hold ourselves down, we steal from our own opportunity to grow into the person who has a right to have the life they want. Embracing asteya involves cultivating contentment with yourself and your abilities, respecting your inner resources, and practicing truthfulness in recognizing your worth. A mantra that helps me to connect with the principles of asteya is “I have everything I need. Right here, inside of me.”

Asteya in Yoga practice and daily life

  • Respect other people’s time.
  • Be happy for others and support them.
  • Be careful not to steal their peace and joy.
  • Be mindful of what you eat.
  • Practice gratitude for what’s in your life already.
  • Work on your self-worth.
  • Build trust within yourself by practicing some yoga asanas with eyes closed.

Asteya is a profound principle that encourages us to not just avoid stealing material possessions but also to respect the time, energy, and happiness of others. By cultivating contentment within ourselves and recognizing our own worth, we can move beyond feelings of insufficiency and jealousy. Instead, we can embrace joy, gratitude, and a deep sense of fulfillment while supporting those around us. In this practice, we serve not only ourselves but also the world. Remember, the key to non-stealing is understanding that “I have everything I need. Right here, inside of me.”

Yogi doing a head stand embracing Asteya

More on Yoga Philosophy

Keen to learn more about Yoga and ethical guidelines in Yoga Philosophy? Check out my articles on Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (truthfulness) and Brahmachrya (energy conservation).