In my Hatha Yoga Teacher Training, we are exploring the yamas and the niyamas. As we work through the yamas, I’m learning tremendously about myself and just how relevant these ancient principles remains today.

We’ve explored Ahimsa (Non-Violence), Satya (Truthfulness) and now Asteya (Non-Stealing). What’s most interesting about Asteya is that it goes beyond material theft and into the layers of existence.

You Can Steal More Than Stuff

Who hasn’t learned not to take what doesn’t belong to them, after all, it’s a pretty common teaching from our parents, yes? Who, however, has been taught not to steal time? Punctuality is a perfect example of not stealing time. Who has been taught not to steal silence? Learning to listen when others speak and to welcome silence is rather more complex than being on time for an appointment.

On an interpersonal level, we can steal emotions and favours, even. If you’ve ever been in a relationship where the other person cares more for you than you do for them, you may have been tempted to sway their decisions to your advantage or get them to do things for you to help you out. That’s stealing emotions (using their emotions for your benefit) and favours (manipulation).


In observing asteya, I realized that I was often walking a fine line between expressing myself in a group setting, and taking someone else’s opportunity to speak up. I didn’t cut people off, I didn’t speak without raising my hand in a class, but I often was the first to raise my hand. In teams, I was often the one saying “Ok, let’s… and what do you think about…?”

Some people need time to step into the place that is theirs to take. And there’s no masking tape on the ground with your name on it either. This was the same for me whenever there came a project requiring coordination and no clear leader had been voted/named/stepped forward. I would often assume this role, as though it naturally fell to me. In taking a step back, I allowed others to step forward.


This was so freeing! I realized that taking on responsibilities without question was also a burden to me. Not only was I taking someone’s opportunity, I was weighing myself down.

There is strength and wisdom in recognizing when a place or something isn’t ours, and graciously letting it go.

Let It Go

The first time I had a glimpse of this yogic principle was when I left a job I no longer enjoyed, without having everything figured out. I had enough to care for myself financially,  but my plan was anything but rock solid or clear-cut. I just knew, however, that my place was no longer in that job and that whilst I stayed, I took someone else’s place in that job who could learn from it or use the money.

That was perhaps obvious to my loved ones, but asteya’s implication is also in letting go and that can be more subtle depending on the situation.

While practicing asteya, I noticed when I needed to wait, to sit still, to listen, to step back or even walk away.

Asteya WIDE Centre

What have you been taking or keeping that you should give back or let go of?