The yamas are the five ethical practices or the "great vows" that we commit to when we dedicate ourselves to yoga.
The first one, ahimsa says, Do not harm.
The second one, satya says, Do not lie.
The third yama, asteya says, Do not steal.
You might say, "Phew! I'm covered with the do not steal thing. I can cross that off my list. I don't shoplift, or rob banks...... heck, I don't even take those little soaps from the hotel.... I mean, we're supposed to steal those!"
It's great to have the "do not steal thing" covered, however, yoga is a practice of going from the gross to the subtle or the obvious to the less obvious, so once we master the more obvious practice of not stealing material things, a committed student of yoga would then ask the question, "How do I steal on a more subtle level?"
My good friend Nancy is an attorney. Because of her kind and compassionate heart, she is very generous with her legal advice without expecting anything in return.
The other day, we were together and I said, "I have to pick something up in this store." She said, "Okay, I'll just wait in the car." I said, "But why? You love this store!"
As it turned out, she had given some free legal advice to the sales person. Now every time she goes into the store, the sales person asks her more legal questions (which she is too nice not to answer) so she ends up spending much of her precious time giving free legal advice.
Whether the sales guy was aware of it or not, he was "stealing" her time, her expertise, the freedom to shop in the store without feeling pressure, and ultimately her livelyhood when he asked her for free legal advice.
There are many ways in which we take what has not been freely offered.
When we are late, we steal someone's time.
When we talk too much or too loudly, we steal someone's attention and their turn to speak.
When we do everything for our children, or fix someone else's problem, we steal their opportunity to learn and make their own mistakes.
When we gossip, we steal another's ability to defend themselves.
When we judge people, we steal our own opportunity to cultivate an open mind and heart.
When we take someone's ideas and claim them as our own, we are stealing our opportunity to develop our own creativity.
When we don't share our abundance with others or give back to our community when we are able, we are stealing the opportunity to experience our innate oneness with all.
When we get very clear and aware of our thoughts, words, and actions we might realize that we "steal" from others in order to fill a void within ourselves.
Yoga philosophy teaches that we have everything we need inside of us to embrace the happiness and to endure the suffering that we will inevitably experience in life. Following the eight limbed path of yoga can help us to remember this Universal truth.
Sutra 2.37 of the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali says, "when established in non stealing, all wealth comes to us."
In other words, trust in a kind and generous Universe and you will be rewarded for your committment to asteya.
All Abhyasa Ahimsa Aparigraha Asmita-Ego Attachment Baron Baptiste Beginner's Mind Bramacharya Carl Jung Clear Seeing Colorless Comfortable Discomfort Creating Spaciousness In Mind And Body Cultivate The Opposite Deepak Chopra Dharma Empty Your Cup Enthusiasm Equanimity Family Fight Or Flight Great Vows Inner-awareness Inner Critic John Kabbatzinnb2faff332d Listening Mirrors To Ourselves Monkey Hunting Non Stealing Patanjali Pause Pillar Pleasure And Pain Posseses Us Practice Pratipaksa Bhavana Pratyahara Present Moment Present Moment Awareness Respond Instead Of React Samadhi Samskara Santosha Satya Sauca Sensual Pleasures Shadow Side Spirituality Steadiness And Ease Sthira And Sukha Strength Sustained Attention Svadhyaya There You Are Thich Nat Hahn This Too Shall Pass True Self Uncertainty Universal Truth What We Possess Wherever You Go Wisdom Yoga Philosophy Yoga Sutra 1. 14 Yoga Sutra 1.33 Yoga Sutra 2.33 Yoga Sutra 2 37cfe9965fa2 Yoga Sutra 2. 46 Yoga Sutras