Blog Post

Asteya – non-stealing

5. September 2022

We have come to the third of the yamas: Asteya or non-stealing. If you missed my blog posts about the first yamas you can read about Ahimsa here and Satya here. Now, let’s unpack Asteya a little bit.

As already mentioned Asteya can be translated to non-stealing. Naturally, you cannot just steal something because you like it. I cannot just go take your beautiful limited edition Liforme mat just because I like it. Then we cannot trust each other. This I think is something we all know (well, at least most of us anyway). I assume that none of us are stealing from each other in this way, at least you probably aren’t if you’re reading this blog post.

Asteya – more than just stealing

However, Asteya is not just about me not stealing your yoga mat. It is about so much more. It is also about not stealing with your words. Allow me to elaborate on this for a moment. If we are having a conversation, and I’m telling you all about my day, and you then start telling me the story of how you backpacked through Europe 10 years ago, that is stealing with your words. It might be a fantastic story, but now is not the time to tell that story. You simply would be stealing my moment.

Makes sense? You are stealing someone else’s space. It’s just like you cannot show up in white at a wedding. Only the bride can show up in white. If you show up in white you are stealing the bride’s moment.

It also comes to taking someone else’s time. Have you ever met time thieves? I’m not sure this is even a proper word, but my dad always calls these people time thieves, and I think it’s the perfect word for them. Time thieves simply just don’t respect your time. They show up late, they overstay their invitation, they monopolize conversations. We all know them.

It’s the people who ask the yoga teacher 10 questions after class and end up taking 30 minutes of the teacher’s time. It’s the people who look at 15 houses without ever intending to actually buy a house. They are not practicing Asteya. They might not be stealing your yoga mat, but they surely are stealing your time and energy.

It could also be people who you lend a pinky finger and they take the whole arm. You offer to write them one social media post and now they want a whole social media strategy. Or you do them one favor and now they ask for 10 favors. This is stealing too, and it is not practicing Asteya.

Of course there is a balance. Naturally, you can ask questions within the realm of reason. Of course you can ask your friend, partner or family member for a favor, but everything has to be within the realm of reason. Otherwise it would be stealing.

So, when talking about Asteya, I almost never talk about actual stealing. I talk about stealing with words, time and energy. Because this is where I see most of us struggling to practice Asteya.

I hope this blog post has given you a better understanding of Asteya and how you can practice it in your life. Remember, it’s okay if you fail at the 8 limbs. We all do. What matters is that you keep practicing and that you never give up. There will be times where you fail at practicing Asteya or any of the other yamas and niyamas. That is okay. It’s a life long practice, and there are no shortcuts. You just have to show up and put in the work day after day.

As we say in yoga: keep practicing and all is coming.