Hello! Thanks for stopping by this week. We've been taking a little trip through the Yamas. They are the "constraints" of yoga, taught by the yoga sage Patanjali at around the second century. In today's world, they are food for thought and still completely relevant.
The third of the Yamas is Asteya: Non-stealing. Seems pretty easy, right? I mean, if you are not committing a bank robbery, you've got your Asteya on. Yes? Um, no. Sorry.
While Asteya does, in fact, apply to only taking what is freely given to you and what belongs to you, it takes us to a deeper personal level. Asteya reminds us to act from a place of abundance in our lives. Patience, love, compassion, our time, sharing what we have with those in need.....these are some of the ways Asteya weaves its way into our lives.
Asteya tells us to remember that we have enough. This time of the year is perfect for practicing this Yama. It is so easy to fall into the trap of buying things that we don't need and only want in that moment. Buying that extra gift to "even things up" under the tree is something else that I'm guilty of doing.
On a societal level, Asteya teaches us that generosity overcomes greed. It is in opposition to exploitation and oppression. It encourages us to act toward social justice. The world could always use more of all of that.
Here are some methods to bring Asteya to your practice. I'm thinking about balance here. When we practice together in the Sankulpa Yoga classes, I often talk about bringing a sense of balance in our lives through practicing balancing poses. Below are some ways to encourage yourself to remember Asteya in your life.
This Mudra is one way to begin your yoga practice, but is also available to you to do just about anywhere with some gentle pranayama (breath work). Find a comfortable seated position on you knees or on your seat in easy pose. Sit with a long but relaxed spine and your chin parallel to the floor. Hands rest at your knees or thighs with your palms facing upwards toward the sky and fingers relaxed. Open and upward-facing palms places you in a mudra of abundance and acceptance. Inhale deeply through your nose and exhale completely either through your nose or mouth. Make the inhales and exhales slow and at even lengths.
While breathing in this pose using your abundance mudra, you might want to practice using a mantra. This is a positive short phrase that may be done silently or audibly. Your choice. Here are some examples of Asteya-promoting mantras: "I have all that I need." "Where I am right now is exactly where I am supposed to be." "I am able to bring abundance to others in this world." Something simple and to the point like that is nice. Design one that works for you.
A pose for promoting balance for me is Virabhadrasana III (Warrior 3). You can ask my family if this is true, but I'll tell you that I will often just do this pose in the middle of the house out of the blue. It helps me to check in with myself. It also helps me to find stillness either physically or when the negative self-talk that sometimes likes to visit me uninvited is starting to gain steam. Cues for this pose are below. They are extensive only so that you get the most out of the pose. Read as much or as little of that as you'd like.
Start in Mountain Pose (Tadasana). Inhale to make yourself long, arms reaching upward, fingers spread and reaching.
On the exhale, begin to tip forward at the hips with a straight back. One foot presses firmly into the ground, while the other leg floats off the ground as you tip. Lift the knee cap and quad of the foundation leg (without locking the knee). The raised foot is flexed with toes pointed toward the ground. Doing this engages your foot and assists in the balance.
Spin the inner thigh of your raised leg up toward the sky. Your gaze is focused on a stationary place (a drishti point) some place on the floor a few feet in front of you. At the next inhale, lengthen the spine and find balance where you are. With each exhale, tip more. With each inhale, lengthen and seek balance. Stay at your pinnacle point of balance for several breaths, wherever that might be, and playing with your arm positioning. To come out of the pose, inhale up to standing. Exhale back to Tadasana. Give it a try on the other side.
See......I really do love that pose. Can't get enough of it.....does that mean I really need all the balance work that I can get? Probably. The truth is hard sometimes. :)
Want more? Find a pose that you can't quite get, and work on it throughout the week. This activity is a good way to work on "being ok with where you are right now" each time you practice. It's also a nice way to see progress in your practice. Examples of poses to work on depend upon what you are looking for. If you want some ideas for a specific type of pose, or if you want help finding a pose but have no idea which one, please comment below. I would love to give you some ideas and/or a tutorial.
I wish you a beautiful week ahead of abundance and balance.