Ashtanga Yoga: Practice Asteya for Inner Peace and Self Acceptance

By Heather L Johnston

Wholeness is a state of being that recognizes and appreciates every other soul, as the reflection of the self. The life energy that animates you and I, also flows through and around every plant, animal, body of water, soil and through the atmosphere. The difficulty comes when we begin to see ourselves as separate; separate from each other, inferior, superior, broken or disconnected. Separation creates an emptiness that desperately needs to be filled. We long to be whole. Many times in looking to fill the emptiness we come up with handfuls of nothing.

How do we come back to wholeness?

Patanjali, in his four books of Yoga Sutras (7th century A.D., a rewriting of ancient Eastern beliefs), shows how wholeness is already who and what we are. He then demonstrates step by step, 196 approaches to realize this gift inside. All we need to do is to start with ‘one’ aphorism to feel what it is like to be free of anxiety, emptiness and fruitless striving.

Asteya, the third of Patanjali’s ten ethics (see Yama #3) has to do with not taking, and not leaving someone or something, (or the self) less than whole. Taking can mean using someone’s idea and taking the credit for oneself; or mocking another’s religion leaving them to feel excluded. It could mean trying to show someone up; or taking a gift or something that has not been earned. ‘Taking’ demonstrates that our needs are greater than someone else’s and that we are more deserving, which ends up creating misery for everyone, bringing us back to fruitless striving.

Asteya (Sanskrit, non-stealing) is only one of Patanjali’s teachings. In following the principle of Asteya we become aware of who the Self really is. We end up living our lives with kindness, gratitude and inclusion.

Seven Ways to Asteya, Peace and Self Acceptance:

1. Allow someone the freedom, space and time to discover their own path. (then offer the same length of rope to the self)

2. “Let the ‘thoughts’ of judgment go, before they come out on the end of the tongue.” HJ

3. Be happy where you are on your own path, knowing that all things come to those who seek. Feeling whole where we are keeps the self contented.

4. Release feelings of superiority or deserving. These two thoughts will lead to suffering.

5. See the beauty in your own soul and desire only the true gifts of the self.

6. Observe another’s actions with curiosity and non-attachment.

7. Celebrate the many different ways that life manifests for us at different points in time.

How lucky we are to experience life in a physical form, if only for a short time. Asteya is a part of yoga that helps us to greet the workings of nature with sensitivity, knowing that all is inside of us.

The entire universe of the soul awaits discovery.

Experiment with Asteya (non taking) and the effect it has on others. Then come back here and leave a comment to let us know how it affected you. Looking forward to hearing from you! Heather

Heather Johnston is a Registered Dental Hygienist and a Certified Yoga Instructor based in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada. She enjoys all aspects of health, is fascinated with anatomy and evolution, and is always looking for ways to strengthen the body and mind.

Visit Heather at for related articles and tips.

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