The Eight Limbs of Yoga by Kristen Keaney

The 8 Limbs of Yoga: The Yamas (Moral Restraints), Part 3

We have discussed the first two yamas: Ahimsa (non-harming) and Satya (truthfulness). We have looked at their meanings and how we can incorporate them into our yoga practice as well as our daily lives. 

The third yama is Asteya, or non-stealing. On a very physical level this is an easy one. Don’t steal that which does not belong to you. Whether it be items, ideas, emotions, time or energy. If they’re not given to you freely then leave them be.

Asteya can be applied to your yoga practice in a similar way as Ahimsa. Coming to a class and expecting your body to do advanced postures without “earning” them through diligent daily practice is essentially trying to take something that isn’t meant for you. Moving your body in a way that doesn’t suit your current physical and mental state is robbing yourself of the peace that would be attained through an honest practice. 

Asteya can also be looked at in relationship to our current environment. Do we take from the Earth more than she is offering? Can simple tweaks in our daily lives reverse our harmful actions? Absolutely. Shortening our showers by a few minutes. Trying to remember to bring reusable bags to the grocery store. It could even relate to how much “stuff” we buy and how quickly we get rid of it to replace it with the same thing only newer. This doesn’t mean renouncing the world and all your possessions, it just encourages you to take from this life only what is needed. It is a reminder that these things typically don’t bring us long-lasting happiness and if we look to material things to fill that space we will never see an end to that cycle.

Lastly, Asteya can relate to our emotions and actions. How we act, react and express ourselves around others can have more of an impact than we sometimes realize. Are we stealing someones peace by loudly complaining about minute obstacles from our day? Are we stealing someones happiness by constantly changing the subject to circle back to our losses? 

Asteya is an easy Yama to incorporate into your life and practice. So as we begin a new year I invite you to slow down and make sure there is ease to your practice. Daily, committed practice brings about the best changes in the body; changes that can be long lasting if we remain honest and open.