Asteya: Non-Stealing

Navigating the Unseen Ways We 'Steal' from Ourselves and Others in Class - By Justine Simon

Reading time: 5 minutes

Anyone who knows me, and what I tend write about, would be aware that I rarely moan about something publicly. I try to maintain a positive outlook and find the beauty and gratitude in situations. But something really hit me and I feel that I need to rant so that I can let it go and move forward.

Asteya meaning non-stealing is one of the yamas, the first of eight branches of yoga. They support harmonious relationships with ourselves and others.

In one week I was able to identify different ways in which people were stealing. In my class. My class. And whilst I imagine a couple of these people would be oblivious to it being stealing, it is stealing nonetheless.

Place Holding:

I teach in a gym on a Monday evening. My class has been fully booked for a week already. But as the class starts there is only 75% attendance. Now I know stuff happens beyond our control but do you find yourself doing this regularly or even cancelling last moment? Well then you are stealing someone else’s place and preventing me from earning my full potential for the class. I have regulars message me saying how they wanted to attend but couldn’t book on.

Stealing the Peace - 1:

The bus was late. Or maybe there was nowhere to park? Or maybe you got distracted on your game or was lost in a conversation with someone? But you arrive after the class has started. Sometimes life just happens. But do you do this regularly? You are stealing the peace from the other students. You are also stealing from yourself as I spend the start of class explaining themes and intentions for the practice. I demonstrate areas we will be exploring and I am settling everyone into arriving on the mat, into the present moment and into the body. And I like to spend time on our arrival as it is so important.

I see the eyes roll as those that did show up on time, even early to find a place or to pause, or to ask a question before class or even just to take time to check in and have a mini catch up - these people feel frustrated. You stole their peace. I tend to put extra mats out to help ease the disturbance of a latecomer but this needs to be more than a one way consideration.

Stealing the Peace - 2:

The mobile phone. The latest arm extension. When you come to practise, you are making a commitment to move away from external distractions and allowing yourself (and others) sanctuary from a busy world. And of course there are exceptions to this.

In the past people have asked if they can keep their phone on as they are awaiting news about a loved one in hospital; keeping their phone on and nearby helps bring about some ease. But I have experienced the third class in a row when the same phone went off 2 minutes into savasana even having reminded the class to turn phones off. Not cool. You stole the peace.

Stealing a Place on the Mat:

Yoga studios can’t afford to pay a receptionist to be in from 7am and so teachers have multi roles at this time of day. The students arrive and I note their names. No problem. A latecomer arrives (stealing the class’s peace) and so I approach and find them a place whispering to find out about injuries etc. whilst trying to disturb the others as little as possible. A beautiful class, a dedicated practice.

The latecomer was very grateful and thankful and then leaves. And when I check the schedule, they had not booked. They had not paid for the class. They had literally stolen a class. That person may have shown up on the mat for a yoga class but this isn’t practising yoga. If you choose to ignore the yamas then why are you showing up for the asana?

You see, yoga teachers get paid in different ways. Sometimes we get a flat rate for a class. Or we share the cost with the studio; this means a 50/50 split and for MoveGB or Classpass we see very little of what you actually paid. Or we might hire the space ourselves so if only 2 people show up, we are paying to teach. And yet you see us showing up at the front of the class oozing joy and serenity.

And many yoga teachers have additional jobs simply to make ends meet. But we love what we do. We believe in what we are doing. And that is why we continue to show up.  And I get that times are tough. The cost of living crisis is not made up. And this is why I offer a ‘Pay as You Feel/Pay What You Can Afford/Pay what the Practice is Worth’ class. You can sign up, book in and not pay a penny. But if you come regularly I would ask you to consider that, if you never paid for the class I could not run it. Why? It’s a Zoom class and I pay for Zoom.

I also have a website that is not free and incurs costs. My initial training was not cheap. My continued CPD costs money and is necessary to stay up to date. But if you are struggling, this should not be a barrier to yoga; find me at and find that class rather than steal ones please.

Justine Simon

Justine can be found teaching regular classes and extended workshops in Brighton and Hove. Her practice is playful and inquisitive, with a focus on awareness rather than alignment. When not on her mat, she can be found spending time with her family including her newest addition, the grandson. Or you might see her with her beautiful but skittish Miniature Husky, Chewie Barker.