Yoga Yamas: Asteya, or Non-Stealing

There are five yamas and five niyamas, for a total of ten moral and ethical precepts to help guide one’s life.

Here is the third yama, asteya.

Asteya: Non-Stealing

Resisting desire for that which does not belong to us.


This one, like the others, seems so obvious on the surface, but think about what a disciplined practice of asteya would look like.⁠

Crossing a friend’s boundaries can be seen as stealing space that you aren’t entitled to. ⁠

Interrupting someone in conversation can be seen as stealing their chance to be understood.⁠

As a white person in a complex system of institutionalized racism, I think about ways I’ve taken advantage of privileges given to me that I did not earn.  In fact, I often ask myself how I can teach and share Yoga in a way that isn’t stealing. Yoga is a practice that comes directly from a South Asian culture that doesn’t belong to me. 

Other ways we can live in the spirit of asteya

-When something comes to you, let it come. When something leaves, let it go (Satchidananda). Don’t force; don’t hang on too tightly.

-Use what you take with gratitude, respect, and reciprocity…give something back or pay it forward.

-Have your own experience, don’t compare your experience to someone else’s. Notice if you are coveting another’s strengths and forgetting to explore your own.

-Become aware of little ways a person might steal things, attention, or space: taking more than you need at the dinner table, monopolizing conversation, or wearing a strong scent in an enclosed space. 

-At times we may feel like we don’t have the means to get what we desire, and feeling like we can’t create for ourselves what we want could lead to stealing from others –thoughts and ideas, money or time, resources. Have faith in yourself, be creative. In time, you will find a way.

Sutra 2.37


For more on asteya and the other yamas click here

For the niyamas click here