What is Asteya in Yoga – Asteya is the third Yama and one of the five Yamas described by the sage Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras, a famous text about yoga philosophy. Asteya is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘non-stealing’ and one of the pious virtues.
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali serves as guidelines for providing holistic physical and mental health to help people live with peace and contentment. The lessons in these directions are so profound that they can practice them on the yoga mat and in daily life.
What is the meaning of Asteya?
The third Yama, Asteya, is an ethical precept that one should not steal nor have the intention or desire to steal another person’s material possessions. Hence it comes under Yamas, which explains abstinence the Yogis should follow.
Yama, comprises of five yamas, is the first limb out of the eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga. Now, most of us would think that we are not thieves, and, inevitably, most humans are not thieves.
Therefore, like all other yamas, the practice of asteya requires us to understand not only the apparent but also the subtle aspects of its true meaning and application of asteya in daily life.
What is the Yogic meaning of Asteya?
At the deepest level, Asteya means ‘non-stealing’ or relinquishing the desire to acquire anything that is not yours, be it material or immaterial things like success, time, talent, relationships, achievement, or natural resources.
It also means completely surrendering the intention of doing something wrong by thoughts, words or deeds and by force, deceit or exploitation.
Thus, the desire to steal stems from greed, comparison, inadequacy, and vulnerability. When you identify, address and eliminate these defects from within, the quality of Asteya takes root in us.
Why should we practice Asteya?
Practising Asteya Yama is so essential in life that it can easily make all the abundance come to you. Whereas staying with the intention to steal can keep you poor.
Unfortunately, people create misfortune for themselves by recklessly keeping the intention of stealing and hoarding.
Being in high energy and pulsating positively due to a non-stealing nature, the practitioner of Asteya effortlessly attains everything from material goods to priceless virtues and, above all, gratification and eternal peace
How to practice Asteya in daily life?
Asteya (not stealing) is essential in leading a peaceful and harmonious life. And to understand non-stealing very well, it is imperative to know how to apply this quality of non-stealing in our everyday life.
The relevance of the third Yama, i.e. Asteya in the eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga, has been clearly explained.
Let us have a look at the different aspects of Asteya:
1. Asteya and Time
Time plays an essential role in our lives and is the most valuable thing a human can spend; that is why time is crucial to everyone.
So, Asteya teaches us not to steal anyone’s precious time by being late for work, an event, a meeting or any other occasion.
Always respect others’ time and try your best to be punctual so as not to inconvenience anyone unnecessarily.
2. Asteya and Peace
Accidentally or intentionally stealing someone’s peace through words, actions, or negative energy is wrong and against the ethical principles mentioned in the Yamas of eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga.
Asteya teaches us not to destroy anyone’s peace with our thoughts, words or actions. Constantly be inundated with gratitude and spread your peace all around.
3. Asteya and Success
We often congratulate others on their success or achievements on the surface level, but deep inside, we feel jealous and envious of them.
These are the moments when we are stealing the happiness of others, for which we should have been happy wholeheartedly and unconditionally. These feelings enhance our feeling of lack and dearth.
Therefore, according to Yama Asteya, we should appreciate and be grateful for the unique gifts bestowed upon us by the universe.
4. Asteya and Opportunities
Stealing also applies to unintended acts committed towards oneself. Refraining from exploring the world outside your comfort zone comes under the evasion or stealing of opportunities that can lead you to enjoy the best things in life.
Therefore, Asteya teaches us that we should not limit our potential, progress and development to explore the world of unseen possibilities.
5. Asteya and Freedom
As human beings, we are fully capable of thinking. But sometimes, we misuse this power of thinking when we become judgemental or critical of others.
This way, we create division among people by labelling them as positive or negative (including ourselves).
It is when the role of Asteya, the third Yama of the Patanjali Yoga Sutras, begins and asks us not to create prejudice among people and not steal their freedom and self-confidence.
This way, we can attain peace, connect with our higher self, and spread happiness and joy to everyone around us.
Therefore, like all other yamas of the eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga, the practice of Asteya Yama requires maintaining balance on both sides. Taking on too much in any part of your life can be a theft of others’ share. On the other hand, we are stealing from ourselves by denying us the things we need to reach our full potential.