Earlier this month, we started looking at the eight limbs of yoga as outlined in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras with the first of these eight limbs, the yama. The yama, ethical behaviors for social harmony, allow us to contribute to the health and happiness of the world in which we live.
The yamas are broken down into five principles: ahimsa (non-harming) and satya (truth), which we’ve reviewed; asteya (non-stealing), which we’ll cover today; and brahmacharya (right use of energy) and aparigraha (freedom from greed).
Asteya, the third of the yamas, is translated to mean non-stealing. While we’re most familiar with stealing in terms of physical items, asteya refers to more than that. Non-stealing means not taking anything that isn’t freely given, including ideas, energy, emotions, time, and attention. We should respect others and be grateful for what we have.
We not only can steal from others but also from ourselves. The root cause of the compulsion to steal is insecurity, the lack of faith in ourselves to provide for our needs. We need to recognize that we are enough. On the mat, that can mean letting go of how we should look in a pose and forcing our bodies into shapes that they’re not meant to obtain. Goals are fine but we should be fully present in each pose and create a sustainable practice. So the next time you’re on your mat and your inner critic pipes up, just take a breath and remember to be happy for what you can do now.