The Eight Limbs of Raja Yoga: Yamas or Restraints (Number 3)

The first limb of Raja yoga is a set of Yamas or restraints. These can be seen as a form of guidance to the student to help them live a more focused and fruitful life. The third Yama is called Asteya, which is a guide to restrain from acts of theft or covetedness and refrain from jealousy. Asteya, meaning “do not steal” is a very wide ranging statement. We all think of stealing as maybe going into a shop and taking goods without payment or holding up a bank and taking money which isn’t ours. However, Asteya can come into much more day-to-day aspects of our lives and in ways we might not have thought about previously. Let’s look at some examples of how this can be seen. As an example, we are due to meet with a good friend and we have set a time of 6pm to meet at a location in town. According to Asteya we should do our utmost to be on time for this meeting as to be late is to be stealing time from our friend. In this instance stealing time results from wasting their time by not being punctual and having them doing nothing while they wait for us. Another area we can think about is by stealing our environment – a phrase that is hard to imagine but by polution and fouling up of our natural environment we are effectively stealing it from others to enjoy or from the natural inhabitants to live and survive. So, as we can see Asteya can guide us to prevent loss of many things that would otherwise be “stolen” from their owners. By and large, Asteya helps us to be respectful and courteous to our natural habitat and environment.

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