Yoga for Happy Living – Asteya

One of our favourite things on the Santosha Level 1 Yoga Teacher Trainings is seeing our yogis minds blown by the amazingness of yoga philosophy! The third Yama in our Yamas and Niyamas series is Asteya, which means ‘non stealing’.

Again this has a pretty obvious meaning – not taking things which do not belong to us – but also deals with more intangible forms of stealing; jealousy, hoarding, cravings, cheating, dissatisfaction and coveting the belongings and lives of others. 

One of the main ways to practice Asteya, or to stave off “non asteya-ish” behaviour, is to practice acceptance and contentment with ourselves and our circumstances.

We need to make a switch from our usual practice of thinking “if only I had that [possession, job, house, partner, body… whatever] I would be happy” to a feeling that in this moment we do in fact have everything we need.

To do this, we need to cultivate a sense of abundance.

If we go through life with a perceived lack of abundance we will always be craving for more… no matter what we get! We might get that [possession, job, house, partner, body… insert that thing which you crave] but we will still not be happy and satisfied… and then we move onto the next item we “need” in order to be content, repeating the cycle over again and again.

NEWSFLASH: There is no magical item that will finally make us “happy”!

This kind of thinking is insidious in our culture, because we have been taught from tv, from ads, from movies, maybe even from our friends and families, that this is the way things go. Check off certain things, buy certain other things and voila… happiness!

Is it really true though?! What do you think?

Now we are definitely not saying all cravings are bad and never, ever want for anything again! It’s great to have ambition and dreams, to have goals for ourselves… and to buy a new pair of awesome shoes once in a while. These things in themselves are not bad, it is the emphasis and expectations we put upon them.

The switch lies in the words of Santosha teacher Sunny Richards: “We can still have desires, but we are not attached to them giving us happiness” 

We can have plans… but not attach ourselves to ONLY being happy if we achieve them. We can want nice things… but know that they are just that, not Magical Bringers of Happiness and Fulfillment. We can hope for a lovely relationship, but not feel like all our problems ever will be solved when we get one.

Don’t think something outside of yourself will bring you happiness within. Because that comes from… well… within 🙂

So – how do we actually go about feeling that this is really true? As I touched on at the start, one important method is to cultivate a sense of abundance.

This means instead of comparing ourselves to others or focusing on what we don’t have, we focus on what we do have. And be grateful!

So you don’t have such-and-such’s amazing blah-blah… so what! What you do have is your own special quirks and talents, attributes and good points. Maybe you have a lovely family? A nice dog? A fun hobby? Maybe you have none of these but you can make the people around you laugh. I don’t know… but you should find out! 

Start finding things you can be grateful for, however small. 

I’m sure some of you are reading this and thinking “sure, it’s easy for her to say that she doesn’t have x-problem or have to worry about y”… and you are right. I don’t know what cards fate dealt you in life. But we do know that this yogic knowledge has been passed down for centuries – because it works! There is nothing to lose by giving it a try.

It may seem Pollyanna-ish to “focus on the good things”, but by doing so we move from habitual and negative craving and dissatisfaction into a place where we can be more content and appreciative of the positive things we do have. Even if at first it may feel like there are only a few. Start where you are and appreciate those!

As you go about your business this week try developing this mentality of “non-wanting” and see how you go. If you feel jealous of others, try and foster those qualities you envy in them in yourself. If you drink a super yummy cup of coffee, get a nice text from a friend, or see a great movie… appreciate that.

If you find yourself focussing on what you “lack”, focus on what you know you do have. Try not to look outside of yourself for things or people or situations to bring you happiness, but rather try and cultivate a sense of that within, through gratitude and contentment for what you already have. 

And soon you will be practicing “Asteya” with the best of them! 🙂

If you want a deeper dive into the ocean of yoga wisdom our Level 1 Yoga Teacher Training course might be just the place for you…

Our Yoga Teacher Training students get the benefit of a dedicated yoga philosophy teacher, bringing these concepts to life and exploring how they can be applied to benefit both you, and your yoga students.


Ready to start your extraordinary Yoga adventure in paradise? Visit our Level 1 RYT-200 Yoga Teacher training page and start the first step on your new path today!

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