Yoga Philosophy: Yamas – Asteya

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January 24, 2020
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Yoga Philosophy: Yamas – Asteya

We are continuing our philosophical journey this month, and there we are looking at Asteya or ‘Non-Stealing’ There are times when we think of this as only literal stealing, the taking of a material object from another, and in the yogic sense, this can be limiting. (Not to minimize stealing of material objects). When we thinking about getting ourselves to both our own truth and in line with our intention for the year. 

When we think about how we can examine other more Yogic forms of Asteya we look at:

  • Living with integrity: when we look at both truthfulness and non-stealing, how can we live our lives where our energy is placed in an honest way. As we discussed last week, this may be diving deeper into our own purpose. 
  • Stealing from joy – both inward and outward. I recall in reading Brene Brown that comparison “corrodes compassion and connection.” When we compare our own joy to others, we are stealing from our own joy. There are also times within this comparison that we cannot, or do not fully embrace the joy of others, we are stealing from both ourselves and others joy. 
  • Attention: How often do we struggle to give someone our full attention, perhaps when they need it most? When we parse out our attentions to the endless pulls, which seem to only grown by the minute, can we easily identify who we are stealing from?
  • Resources: One of the consistent things woven throughout the cannon of yoga is the balance and limiting of resources. Are we taking more than we need? When we take a thing (from the earth, from a friend) are we looking to replace it in a sustainable way. A big topic at our most recent YTT weekend was the high use of plastics and single-use everything. We all discussed steps folks were making, and I’ve been noting, and making extra steps to reduce, as this conversation made me more alert to some simple steps. 

An Asteya exercise can be to choose one of these areas to focus on, and develop an intention for our mat practice, or perhaps allow it to lead its way off our mats as well. All of these Asteya areas can translate into both arenas. Some examples of mat work:

  • Integrity: setting sankalpas that align with our intention and purpose. Meditating on these intentions.
  • Joy: Staying within our own practice. Not comparing our practice to anyone else’s. 
  • Attention: committing ourselves to our practice. Silencing our phones, leaving them in the car (when safe!) and allowing ourselves the time to practice. 
  • Resources: Taking what we need on the mat and letting go of the rest. Some days we will feel more energized, and others we need more rest. Seeing how we can manage our own resources. 

When we feel comfortable with these mat practices we may feel the desire to carry them off the mat, as described in the YTT example in Resources. Let’s all see how we can honor ourselves and one another!