Exploring Yoga Philosophy: What is Asteya or “non-stealing?”

Have you ever thought a bit about what it means to truly live a life that doesn’t steal from others?

What does Asteya mean to you?

Join Jennifer Dixon ERYT 500, Authorized Ashtanga Yoga Teacher and Certified Personal Trainer and Merritt Plumb from The Energy Center for a discussion on the 3rd Yama, Asteya or non-stealing.

It goes without saying that, morally speaking, we should not be stealing that which is not ours, but in this discussion, we take it a little deeper and talk about stealing someone else’s joy or peace, or the things we do to steal our own happiness.

It’s probably pretty easy to pinpoint when you became aware of the fact that taking your friend’s toy wasn’t appropriate. Sharing is definitely one of the hardest concepts to teach children (at least it has been for my kiddos!) However, very early on, they knew that things they saw in the store, or things that were not in their house were not “theirs” for the taking. They, like you, learned the very basic understanding of what not-stealing meant.

Asteya means non-stealing

If you take it one level deeper, however, you’ll discover that not stealing your neighbor’s china is one thing (and pretty easily understood as an immoral behavior). It is something else deeper, to think about not stealing someone’s thunder, or not stealing someone’s joy and/or peace. Have you ever done that?

My daughter is 4.5. She turns 5 this summer and is technically eligible for kindergarten this fall. I have been agonizing over this decision for months. If I am being totally honest, I’ve been worrying myself over my daughter’s education since she was two, when I first started emailing different schools in town asking about admission’s policies and waitlists. (yes, I can see you rolling your eyes.)

I thought my husband and I had reached an agreement as to what we planned to do, and I thought I was at peace about it. However, today, the Pre-school director pulled me aside and asked if I planned on keeping my daughter in her current class next year, or if she should move up with her current grade. (she was moved up early this year for lots of reasons.) After this innocent conversation, I was totally knocked off track, back to the mom guilt of “what if I’m holding my child back?” or “what if I’m not challenging her enough.” or “what if she’s not ready?”

I called my husband in a panic.

He didn’t respond well.

I stole his peace.

My poor husband was working on someone’s floor, installing tile, blissfully unaware at my emotional breakdown when I called him freaking out about whether I was traumatizing our daughter by keeping her out of Kindergarten.

He didn’t handle it well at first, and all but hung up on me, which totally wound me up even more.

(notice how stealing your peace and stealing someone else’s peace tends to spiral out of control?)

A few minutes later, he called me back and talked me back into a pseudo peace. I was able to complete my tasks for the afternoon, knowing that the plan we’d made was at least set, for now.

Have you ever worried yourself or guilted yourself into a frenzy? Have you ever brought someone else down that spiral of dis-ease?

If so, that’s not practicing asteya. It’s stealing your own peace, and then stealing someone else’s peace.

This is a fairly easy example of stealing from others, but many more exist, and Jennifer and Merritt dive deep into what it means to each of them in today’s episode of Sacred Spaces on the Thrive Yoga and Wellness Vlog. (be sure to subscribe to our channel!) This conversation is fun but also thought provoking as we dive into the concept of non-stealing or Asteya.

We have been using a great book called, The Yamas and Niyamas by Deborah Adele for these discussions and we welcome you to join us on this journey through the first two limbs of yoga.

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