Asteya is one of the 5 yamas, or ethical practices of yoga. One of the 8 limbs of yoga, the 5 yamas are age-old ideas that help yogis live a moral and righteous life. Exploring these practices on and off your mat may give you some novel insight into how you practice yoga and even to the larger-scale choices you make in every day. Here is an introduction to the third yama and some ways to incorporate it into your life.

Understanding and Practicing Asteya In Yoga

Asteya, the third yama, translates to “non-stealing” or “non-coveting.” This idea starts with non-stealing in the literal sense of not taking things that do not belong to you. In a larger sense, this yama helps individuals understand what the things they are consuming and be mindful of the best way to use time and resources. Consider exploring some of the following ways to practice this yama on and off your mat.

Practicing Asteya On Your Mat

Exploring the yamas through meditation and asana is a great way to get started with these practices. Making even a few small changes in the way you look at your yoga practice can make a big difference! Some ways to bring this yama into your yoga practice include:

  • Show up on time and be present. A simple way to practice asteya is to be mindful of other people’s time by showing up to class on time. This may mean arranging your schedule so you can get to class early enough to set up your mat and get comfortable, rather than rushing in once class has started and interrupting others.
  • Make the most of your time. Once you are in your yoga class, do your best to make the most of your time on the mat. This means bringing your full attention to your movements or meditation, rather than letting thoughts and feelings from other parts of your day slip into class.
  • Try an asteya mantra. On the meditation side of your yoga practice, exploring some mantras related to asteya may be another great way to incorporate this yama into your practice. Mantra meditation is the practice of repeating words, phrases, or intentions while meditating. This practice can help you harness the power of positive affirmations and manifest the things you want in life. Some asteya mantras to try include:

I am enough

Less is more  

I release everything that no longer serves me

I have everything I need to be happy

I am thankful for my friends and family

  • Be mindful of the resources you use in your practice. Whether you own a yoga studio or simply like to spend time at one, making an effort to reduce the number of resources you use during yoga and surrounding your time is another way to practice non-stealing. Rather than consuming resources such as fossil fuels to get to yoga class or using plastic water bottles when you could avoid this with a reusable bottle, think of ways to use less. You might try carpooling or avoiding driving when possible to cut down on use of fossil fuels, eating snacks from environmentally responsible companies, or trying other strategies to avoid coveting finite resources in your practice.

Practicing Asteya Off Your Mat

Practicing the yamas need not only happen while you are practicing yoga! Taking a few minutes to think about the way you use your time and resources may have a big impact on your life. Consider exploring some of the many ways to bring these practices into your life off the mat as well. Try some of the following.

  • Be respectful of other people’s time. When taking asteya off the mat, think about some ways you can be more mindful of how you take up other people’s time. Do you hold meetings at work that could be covered in an email? Have you asked someone for some of their time and showed up late or unprepared? Put this yama into action by taking some real time to think about when and why you ask other people to share their time with you, and how you can make the most of the time you both share.
  • Be mindful of your own time. When practicing asteya off the mat, think not only about how you use other people’s time but also how you use your own. It is so simple to talk yourself into watching one more episode of television in exchange for one less hour of sleep- but when you do this are you stealing something that could serve you? Taking some time to think about the best way to use your time and energy in your own life can be a great way to put this practice into action.
  • Practice the art of letting go. If you have a habit of holding onto the things that no longer serve you in your life, you are not alone. However, holding onto these physical items, thoughts, or even relationships may mean you are stealing time and energy from more productive things in your life. Moving away from these things and learning to let go is another great way to practice asteya. Consider trying this practice in big or small ways. It may be as simple as saying no to an activity you would rather not participate in and instead use that time for something you feel better serves you. In a larger sense, practicing asteya in this way may also mean making large-scale positive changes in your life, even if you think they are scary or difficult.
  • Take simple steps toward living sustainably. Asteya is all about responsible use of time and resources, so finding some ways to use the resources you have more responsibility can help you put this practice into action. Explore some small and simple ways to live more sustainably. Easy things you can do include:

Taking the bus, biking, or walking to work even one day per week to cut down on fuel consumption

Sorting your waste mindfully and responsibility disposing of things that are recyclable and compostable. 

Finding ways to cut down on the electricity your household uses.

Buying products from environmentally responsible brands.

At Cody, we love helping people foster healthy minds and bodies on and off their yoga mats. To continue learning about the 5 yamas, explore our guides for practicing satya and ahimsa!

Megan Herndon

Megan is a Seattle-based writer who covers health and wellness. She has worked in content marketing and journalism for a number of organizations including The Seattle Globalist, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and The Jakarta Globe. She has a BA in journalism from the University of Washington and is currently working on her second UW degree, a Master of Communication and Digital Media. Born and raised in Hawaii and currently embracing the Pacific Northwest lifestyle, Megan loves all things active and outdoors including hiking, camping, outrigger canoe paddling, and yoga.

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