I've been working on my Introspective Yoga series, where each week I reflect and write about a concept from the yoga ethics of yama and niyama. This week we are on asteya, or the concept of non-stealing.
I want to mention something that is important, but usually uncomfortable to say in yoga circles. It is this: Yoga has been fantastically culturally appropriated.
In other words, yoga has been stolen and misconstrued into pretty packages and accessories we can buy. Now, this is NOT to say you can't practice yoga unless your Indian grandparents taught you. But, it is to get you to inquire more about yoga as it is presented in our modern world, be critical and open to critique, and to keep learning about yoga as a whole.
I don't have the answers on how to save yoga from being appropriated, as in my opinion, it isn't really up to any one single person but the industry as a whole. With that said, I think there are ways to minimize the harms of appropriation. One of the first steps is to admit I don't know it all, and to honor and respect the ancient knowledge I'm learning/consuming. The second is to listen to people who's culture is being stolen and affected, such as the suggestions in this article from an Indian yoga teacher.
Now more on asteya or non-stealing as an ethical, spiritual idea.
We know stealing things that isn't ours is wrong. But let's take it a step further... stealing isn't limited to possessions.
If you show up late, you are stealing someone's time. If you are being obnoxious or rude, you are stealing someone's peace of mind. If you abuse your power, you are stealing someone's personal power. If you allow thoughts that don't serve you consume your mind, you're stealing your own potential to thrive. It goes on.
But do you ever stop and wonder why we steal in the first place?
I think we reach toward external things and steal when we don't allow ourselves to receive the gift within. If you can find it in you to trust your own ideas and trust your own inner compass... Why would you have to steal anything?
"Once you realize that the source of all solutions that you seek outside yourself are always present within you, asteya naturally happens." --Yogi Amrit Desai
One last thing asteya inspires me to remember is that I am enough. You are enough. We don't need to take in order to embellish ourselves. We can appreciate what we have to offer, and appreciate what others have to offer too. We can also appreciate yoga, without forgetting where it came from and minimize cultural appropriation.
What are your thoughts on asteya and cultural appropriation? Feel free to share the blog and discuss with your friends.
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