Asteya (non stealing) is the third of the five Yamas in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, a guide to the philosophy of yoga compiled nearly 2000 years ago. Just like the other Yamas, ‘non-stealing’ has a wide range of meanings. It can be thought of as far more than not taking something from someone else.
The concept of Asteya is mentioned and debated in many other spiritual texts, including the Mahabarata (of which the Bhagavad Gita is part), and the ancient philosophical writings collectively known as the Upanishads and the Vedas. In the 20th century Gandhi also wrote about Asteya/ non-stealing and he considered it one of his ’11 Vows’. He expanded beyond the physical act of stealing – suggesting that humankind’s greed and craving for more things including wealth is also a form of stealing.
This concept of Asteya has particular resonance for us today, with current concerns about the ecology of our planet, and whether we are living sustainable lifestyles. Are we ‘stealing’ from future generations to come?
How might we apply the idea of ‘non-stealing’ to our yoga practice? I’m sure you haven’t even dreamt of stealing someone’s blocks or mat! Your suggestions welcome.
In our class sequence this week, we did some standing postures to strengthen the legs. After a standing warm up, these included chair, and the head to knee forward bend, or pyramid pose (using blocks if your hands don’t reach the floor). Lying down, we did some pelvic rocks, first actively zipping up with the core muscles, and then passively using the leg muscles only. We finished off with some seated stretches, cross legged and then with the legs straight out in front.
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