¨Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize nothing is lacking, the whole world belongs to you.
The above quote describes the third Yama in Patanjali´s eight-fold path of yoga perfectly. When we have faith that there is enough, that we are enough, the temptation to take what is not freely given to us leaves. Here we begin to see all the ways, blatant and vague, that we take what is not freely given to us. The pen or legal pad from the office, the time we spend not being productive; stealing time from others by being late for formal or informal appointments.
Most of us like to think that we are ¨cash register honest¨ – we turn in the wallet that is left on the airplane seat, but we may cut corners on our taxes or feel that we are somehow entitled to take something from a hotel room, as it is built in to the cost of the room rate.
Underlying all the rationalizations is FEAR. Fear that we won´t get enough, that there isn’t enough money or other material objects, there isn’t enough time – to get everything done, for our loved ones, for fun or rest……that our time is running out; that the universe won´t provide us with enough, that we aren’t enough.
As with most things, the practice of asteya may be a gradual process. We notice how we are stealing from others when we tell a little white lie, and we walk away with a sinking feeling in our belly. Each time that we instead tell the truth, we fortify asteya, or non-stealing in our nervous systems and in our lives.
How to practice asteya on our yoga mats and in our lives
My teachers tell me that ¨it´s all yoga¨. We practice these principles in the warm, safe environment of yoga studios and in our homes, but the true practice is in our daily lives. How we practice anything is how we practice everything. You might try starting the following practices on your mat, and watch how they transfer to all of your daily affairs:
Be on your mat before the class starts, with water, towel or whatever you need for class without a lot of fidgeting or fuss, seated quietly and ready to begin. Sliding in 5 minutes into the class time, and making noise steals the attention and serenity from other students in class.
Notice how you steal from yourself when you are ticking off your to-do list while in childs pose, or competing by trying to practice a pose like the teacher or another student who you admire. My teacher, Rolf Gates, is known for telling students to ¨Do your best, and let your best be good enough¨. Letting our best be good enough on and off the mat, demonstrates faith instead of faithlessness. Forcing our bodies into shapes that aren’t meant for us is a reflection of our lack of knowing that our bodies are enough just the way they are.
The only ¨right¨ way to practice yoga poses is to have correct alignment, in order to avoid injury. Other than that, yoga poses are an expression of our uniqueness. I tell students very often, the pose is what you are doing. Yoga is how you are being in the pose.
Each time we tell the complete truth, each time we leave the article we would love to take with us, each moment that we enjoy our breath in our body as we take triangle pose without an ounce of extra effort; each time we notice that we are happy for others´ success, rather than being jealous of it, we are embodying asteya.