In this post we will explore the third Yama - Asteya - and how you can bring this philosophy into your classes as a Yoga teacher or into your practice as a Yogi.
Asteya means non-stealing. It encourages us to let things be as they are. We don't rain on anyone's parade, or our own parade for that matter - we don't steal their/our joy. We don't take things from others, whether that be physical things or their ideas without acknowledgement. Asteya helps us learn to accept what others have and experience without judgement, and reflect that same concept back on ourselves.
In a physical Yoga practice, we often favour particular poses, concepts or even muscles groups over others. This could be interpreted as 'stealing' from the opportunity of other muscles/poses/etc to be given a chance. As instructors, it is our duty to provide practitioners with as much variety and opportunity within the practice as possible so that they may experience everything Yoga has to offer.
Asteya could also involve ensuring enough time is given to fully explore each posture, taking the time to make sure students know their options to progress or regress a pose and being careful with your words so a comment doesn't distract or remove someone from their practice.
Here is what an Asteya Yoga Practice might look like for Yoga teachers:
Begin by taking a moment to acknowledge where your ideas and teachings come from. While we can't always take the time for this every class, it is important to let our students know who our own teachers were and make them aware that we are building on the work of others, we did not come up with most of this ourselves! Be sure to acknowledge the ancient tradition of Yoga that has been passed down through generations and expanded throughout the world by a number of important teachers who you may choose to discuss.
Settle into your practice with time for breathwork and meditation, contemplating the concept of Asteya, what that means for each individual in their own lives and what it may mean for the practice ahead. Take the time to set an intention to practice Asteya through the Asana.
When warming up the body, take the time to bring attention to small, often overlooked areas of the body such as wrists and hands, feet, neck, face or pelvic floor. This could be done through gentle rolling movements, light activation or even touching/rubbing your hands/neck/face etc.
Try to choose poses or sequences that you often overlook - this will be slightly different for everyone, but if you're unsure, focus on smaller muscle groups rather than the larger more dominant ones. For example, try practicing a balancing pose on tip-toes instead of a flat foot to work the intrinsic foot muscles. Be sure to provide options for your students (eg. standing next to a wall or closing their eyes) to give everyone the opportunity to participate at their own level. Provide ample time for everyone to get the full experience - don't cram too much in that you have to rush through!
During Savasana, it is vital that you take into account your role as the steward watching over the space while your students do their relaxation and meditation. Your job it to ensure nothing steals that moment from them! Make sure any noises are minimal, the temperature is comfortable, any one who needs help or might be interrupting the others is gracefully dealt with. In your own practice, Asteya in Savasana could be allowing yourself to lie without a time limit and letting yourself fully experience the moment without interruption.
After the practice, make sure to transition gracefully back to the day so as not to shock anyone out of the lovely relaxed state they may be in.
I hope this helps any Yoga teachers out there who want to know how to bring the Yamas and Yoga Philosophy into your classes, I know I couldn't find full classes like this online when I was looked for something to take inspiration from! I hope you enjoy this practice and let me know how it goes for you.
Let me know your thoughts on these ideas and how you incorporate Asteya into your practice and teachings. Click here or my explanation of Asteya and to discuss more.
Wishing you all love and light!