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June 23, 2010
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Asteya, or nonstealing, is one of the yamas of yoga (if you didn’t catch it before, a yama is explained here) and at first glance seemed really easy for me to master. I don’t steal. So simple. I don’t take things that aren’t mine and I never miss paying a bill. But what about keeping a library book past its due date? Or not alerting the cashier when she or gives back too much change? Or using that handicap parking spot just for a minute while you run into the store? Maybe a few extra minutes at lunch? Are those things also considered stealing? I would argue that they are. Maybe not on the same playing field as grand theft auto or anything, true. But a form of stealing nonetheless. What does this have to do with yoga?

About six months ago, I became very engrossed in my yoga practice. I was practicing asana and pranayama on a regular basis and was really becoming interested in the philosophy of yoga, something that I had never done before. And I was loving every minute of it. My mood improved, I felt genuinely good about so many things in my life. I had not felt that way in a long time, if ever. Somehow, I slipped out of it. All of it. The breathing. The postures. The daily guidance that the yogic philosophy provided me. I’ve been drinking too much alcohol. Eating too much junk. Slowly seeping back into an apathetic existence. The other day, as I was reading this blog post on The Suburban Yogini I realized that I’ve been stealing from myself. By not taking care of myself, I am robbing myself of the joy that comes with a regular yoga practice. There you have it: I am still a thief. I have managed to steal something precious from myself. No wonder I have been feeling disconnected from the world and angry with myself. So what’s the next step? Asteya. Nonstealing. It may not happen overnight. Or in one week or even a month. But I know that if I just keep trying, my intention of nonstealing or asteya will become reality.

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