The start of 2023 began a renewed exploration of the 8 Limbs as outlined in Patanjali’s yoga sutras. I always stop to remind myself that sutra 1.2 sets forth the meaning of yoga, “The restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is Yoga”. I know I repeat this often, if we learn to control our mind (through meditation, breath, asanas, contemplation) we will achieve the goal of yoga.
This week we continue with the first limb, the Yamas, which are rules of moral code (there are 5), the third being Asteya or non-stealing. Like not lying, or satya, that we spoke of last week, that seems relatively simple. When was the last time we robbed a bank? (Frankly, robbing a convenience store or a lemonade stand is likely to be easier and more lucrative. Take it from me, there is little money in the drawers and robbing a bank is a felony. Other robberies are less likely to get you imprisoned for long periods.) Sorry, I digress.
All kidding aside, if we take Asteya to mean not to take things that do not belong to us, we can focus on appreciation for what we have. I have previously reflected on paring down, keeping only possessions that bring us deep joy and sharing (donating) our excess. When you are surrounded by less, you can find a deeper appreciation for what you have and perhaps for the (natural) world around you. In addition to coveting things, we may wish to “steal” the talents, achievements, or successes of others. We may have feelings of inadequacy or feel we are lacking in some way; we may wish for things that others have whether they are possessions or talents or life situations.
To expand, we can focus on three versions of Asteya:
· Asteya of Actions– this is the most obvious where one person takes someone else’s possessions.
· Asteya of Thoughts – think of this as pushing away thoughts of greed or jealousy. It could also mean stealing others ideas or intellectual property,
· Asteya of Words – Using words or misleading to steal goodwill or joy from others.
I found a wonderful article from Yoga Practice on Asteya as I reflected on it this week, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did:
Nurturing Our Mind - Meditating on Asteya
When we free ourselves of such desires, we can establish the virtue of Asteya within us. Gandhi is quoted as saying “mankind’s greed and craving for artificial needs are also stealing”.
“The desire to possess and enjoy what another has, drives a person to do evil deeds. It includes not only taking what belongs to another without permission, but also using something, for a different purpose to that intended, or beyond the time permitted by its owner.” – BKS Iyengar, Light on Yoga
Now is no time to think of what you do not have. Think of what you can do with what there is." -- Ernest Hemingway
Our Practice-Warrior 3 with Hasta (Hand) Mudra
Warrior 3 is a pose that we can think of associating with Asteya.
From crescent lunge, shift your weight into your front leg and launch into Warrior
Root down into your standing leg and allow your extended back leg to reach back.
Outstretch your arms in Hasta Mudra.
Feel the stability and strength in your lower body; press back through the heel of the lifted, extended leg and extend through the crown of your head, sending energy out in both directions.
Hasta (hand) mudra reaches our arms out in front of us and shine our palms open toward the sky. Create a bowl with palms.
We think of hasta mudra as an offering of giving and receiving; we open our heart and mind and release our covetous (stealing) thoughts of not having enough.
Remember, it is how you feel, not how you look! I realize this even now post surgery and am just incredibly grateful that I can come back to my practice, and giggle at myself!
Nurturing with Food – Roasted Root Vegetable Soup
This time of year I love to have a warming bowl of soup at lunch or dinner. Both Peter and I make a lot of different versions. This one he developed around the holidays, using up root vegetables that we had on hand from Thanksgiving. He has made it several times since, and the neighbors love it when we share.
See you on the mat!