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8 ways to implement Asteya in modern life

8 ways to implement Asteya in modern life

According to Patanjali, there are eight limbs (components) to yoga.  Two of these limbs, Yama & Niyama, relate to our social and moral codes of conduct.  Today we will be exploring the 4th Yama ‘Asteya’ which means ‘non-stealing’.

This may seem an obviously ethic to follow in a civilised society, but like most of the limbs of yoga, it means so much more:

How full is your junk mail folder?

How many pairs of yoga pants do you have?

Do you default to a medium-sized coffee for your daily fix?

Do you check your phone at EVERY notification?

While you won’t consider these as ‘stealing’ in the traditional sense of the word, they can be signs of hoarding, which follows the similar principle of stealing: taking something you don’t need.

So how can you practice ‘Asteya’ into your modern life?

Here are some suggestions:

1. Mantra: 

For one week, set the intention of ‘I am enough’ at the beginning and end of your yoga practice.

See how you feel at the end of your practice and at the end of the week.

How do you feel? Has the mantra trickled into other aspects of your life?


2. Unsubscribe: 

How much junk mail do you have in your inbox?

Still receiving emails from a recipe blog you signed up to three years ago?

These emails are stealing your time AND your inbox space!

Go through your inbox and unsubscribe from senders who are no longer relevant to you.


3. Declutter:

Clutter can be considered as stealing as it takes up space, and more often than not, mental energy.

Things you can easily throw out/recycle:

  • magazines more than a week old (let’s be honest, you WON’T read them)
  • out-of-date beauty products (yes they DO expire!)
  • Old receipts — if they live at the bottom of your handbag, they’re never going to make it to the filing cabinet.
  • Spare change — stop hoarding it, start spending it. Or give it to charity. If you’re over 10 years old you don’t need to keep a piggy bank.
  • Electronic devices & cables- you’ll never find what that cable attaches to so why are you keeping it? Devices age so quickly now, you need to keep find a solution to recycle them.

4. Stop procrastinating:

Procrastination is one of the biggest time-stealers.

Here are some ways to overcome your procrastination tendencies, and make the most of your time:

  • Bullet journalling is a great way to keep lists & tasks, especially if you’re a visual learner.
  • When you feel unmotivated, get up and walk. Walk anywhere (preferably outside), for however long you like.
  • Create a productive morning routine: routine’s minimise thinking power for menial but essential tasks. This allows you to maximise your brain power for problem-solving and creativity. If your routine involves spending the first 30 minutes checking your phone, you could probably use that time more productively. Getting on with your morning routine without media distraction will reduce time-wasting.

5. Switch notifications off:

Do you pick up your phone EVERY time a notification goes off?

Switch off your sound and visual notifications on ALL your apps, and look at your messages when you want to, not when your phone commands it.

This can be difficult to do at first, but you’ll find you save a lot of time not being so responsive, and being in control of WHEN you want to communicate.

And while you’re on your phone, why not delete apps you never/rarely use? They take up space and memory on your phone.


6. Bring the only the essentials to class: 

What do you need to bring to a yoga class?

  1. Yourself
  2. Wear comfortable, non-exposing clothes
  3. A yoga mat

You don’t NEED a towel, water, your phone, your rain jacket, your kit bag, a yoghurt…

(yes these are all things I’ve seen brought into a yoga class!)

If you clutter your mat, you will clutter your practice. You might also be ‘stealing’ space from others in the class.

When you attend a yoga class, try to bring the absolute essentials you need to practice, and that’s it. You’re likely to find you are more focused in your practice as you don’t have lots of artifacts scattered around your mat.


7. New for old:

Whenever you buy a new piece of clothing, donate at least one item in your wardrobe to the charity shop. Rule of thumb: if you can’t remember wearing it in the last three months (despite the seas0n!), it probably isn’t worth having.

If you are finding an outfit for a special occassion, why not look at renting/hiring instead of buying something you’ll only wear once?

There are plenty of options to rent suits for men, and there are more websites for women to rent designer dresses, like Girl Meets Dress.


8. Take the minimum:

Food outlets are very deceptive at setting the ‘medium’ size or portion as the ‘normal’.

But what is normal?

Next time you order a coffee, default to the smallest size available.

When it comes to food, we live in a world indulgent on excess. We’re always being tempted to try more, taste more, order more.

This is a type of hoarding, and ‘stealing’ more than you need.


Implementing just one of these suggestions into your regular routine will help you reduce clutter and focus on the essentials.

by Rachel Boddy
All photos from the talented photographers at Unsplash
Meadowlark Yoga

Visit our studio on the edge of the Meadows, open 7 days a week offering Ashtanga Vinyasa and other styles of yoga. Contact@www.meadowlarkyoga.com 43 Argyle Place, Edinburgh, EH9 1JT 0131 2287581