You may have figured out by now that the yama’s (ethical guidelines) go deeper than they may first appear. Asetya is the third yama meaning non-stealing but it doesn’t just refer the act of not stealing material possessions, just like Ahimsa (non violence) doesn’t just mean avoiding physical violence and Satya (truthfulness) doesn’t just meant not lying. I’m guessing that the majority of you reading this, are non violent, truthful and honest people who refrain from stealing material possessions. So how do we then violate Asteya?
Some example of how we may be violating Asetya (Non-Stealing)
Greediness – Taking more than we need.. taking more than we need may result in someone else not getting what they need.
Over-talkative – talking too much robs someone else the opportunity to contribute
Being late – Stealing other peoples time or sense of peace
Gossiping may steal someones reputation
Jealousy – wanting something that someone else has… just because you want it, does not mean that the other person doesn’t deserve it.
Not cleaning up after yourself – results in someone else having to clean up after you, robbing them of time and energy.
Cheating or cutting corners etc
As you can see there are many ways in which we may be stealing without breaking the law!
If we look at the root cause of stealing, we can begin to understand that the desire to want what isn’t ours, almost always comes down to the feeling of not having enough or not being good enough i.e. scarcity. The opposite of scarcity is abundance therefore Asteya asks us to look at all the good things that we already have, whether that’s material possessions, our relationships or spiritually. It asks us to believe that everything we need is already within us, the sutra itself says “When one is firmly established in asteya, all jewels appear” meaning that if you never steal, all that you need will be provided for you….. if you believe that you have all that you need, you won’t need to take it from someone else.
Ways in which we can practice Asteya:
Avoid taking anything that is not freely given i.e. time, money, energy, pictures/privacy, reputation etc
Avoid rushing – Notice how you use your time – are you checking many things of your list but not deeply experiencing any of them
Remember that there is already enough – Notice if you are addicted to doing, do you believe that more is better (more is not always better more sometimes means less quality time for the things that you do actually need and want to do)
Notice when you start comparing yourself to others in the yoga room and outside it.
” Comparison is the theft of joy.”
Asteya then encourages us to chill out, not stress as much. Do the work that needs to be done and trust that, that’s enough. Trust that what is meant for you will come and find you so there is no need to desire what others have, there’s no need to be jealous, there’s no need to stress and rush around maybe we just need to sit back and enjoy all that life has to offer.
Asteya in Asana
Marichyasana (Dedicated to the Sage Pose)
Marichy – Dedicated to the Sage Marichi Also translates as Ray of Light
Asana – Pose
Level: Beginner / Intermediate
Marichyasana A is the first of four poses dedicated to the Sage Marichi whose name means Ray of Light. Marichyasana A is a forward fold combined with a gentle twist, and as with many forward folds, Marichyasana tends to take our attention inwards blocking out external influences which is a beautiful concept for Asteya. Blocking out all the noise from adverts and social media that are trying to tell us that we will not be complete until we buy their products. Marichyasana with the practice of Asteya shuts down all of that noise, reminding us that we are already complete and whole, that our own ray of light will provide us with everything that we need, when we need it, at exactly the right moment, negating the desire to rush out and mindlessly buy things that we don’t need or take things that weren’t offered because we fear we’re not enough. Asteya reminds us that we are worthy and Marichyasana A gives us the opportunity to tune into that knowledge.
MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL BENEFITS
Calms the brain
Restores and rejuvenates the body
Strengthens the Manipura Chakra (Solar Plexus) – associated with self confidence, clarity, knowledge and bliss
Increases flexibility in the back, shoulders, hips and hamstrings
Stimulates the abdominal organs
Strengthens the back
Eases menstrual pain
CAUTIONS AND CONTRAINDICATIONS
Pay special attention if you have lower back problems. Stay more upright and if it doesn’t feel good choose a different forward fold such as Janu Sirsasana
Recent shoulder injury
HINTS AND TIPS
Sit on a blanket if you feel stuck
Focus on leveling the shoulders over the clasp
You can hold the bent leg with the opposite to help you fold forward more easily
Slide shoulder blades down the back to avoid hunching the shoulders and upper back