Asteya - live with truth

Ever been in a yoga class and not fully understood what the teacher is talking about? Bestselling author and creator of the top-rated Yoga Happy app and book, Hannah Barrett, is here to help. This month, she’s unpacking the yogic concept of asteya.

What is Asteya?

“I live in gratitude for all that I have”

The beautiful thing about yoga is that it can start out as a way to move your body, perhaps to build strength and flexibility. But then it morphs into something that can ripple throughout every word you speak, every interaction you have and the relationship you have with yourself.

We can deepen our yoga practice through the first limb of yoga known as the yamas. The yamas are yoga’s ethical backbone — considerations on how to avoid harming ourselves or others. I broke down the first two yamas in previous issues (ahimsa and satya) and today we talk about asteya, the third of the yamas which translates to ‘non-stealing’.

At first glance, non-stealing may seem like an obvious thing to avoid and perhaps you immediately think, “Well, I don’t do that!” However, asteya isn’t just about taking something physical that doesn’t belong to us. It can relate to stealing from our wonderful planet, stealing from our yoga practice by moving in a way we aren’t ready for, stealing people’s time or their opportunity to speak, share or be heard.

We can also steal from ourselves, in terms of time, energy and opportunities. For example, with procrastination, or saying ‘yes’ to too many things, or holding ourselves back from taking chances

How can we apply it to life now?

I feel that asteya goes hand in hand with the yogic concept of santosha, or contentment. When we stop seeking for what we don’t have and start to appreciate and be grateful for the life we are living right now and everything we do have, we stop looking for things we need to take.

A few examples of how we can incorporate the concept of asteya into our daily interactions:

Strive for presence: We have all been in the situation where someone is telling us a story and we aren’t fully connected. Perhaps we are thinking about what to say in response, a similar story we could give, or maybe even thinking, “What can I say to make them feel better?” When you next notice yourself doing this, can you instead give the person you’re talking to the gift of truly listening and not stopping their flow?

Stealing from our planet: Think about where you can make better choices, whether through being more sustainable, recycling more, reducing plastic waste, upcycling, composting, walking more, the list is endless.

Avoid hoarding: Are you holding onto a lot of material possessions that you no longer use? Could someone else benefit from them and give them the love and use they deserve?


Journal Prompts

Yoga helps us connect with our true identity and journalling can be an amazing way to question our beliefs and behaviours and practice self-study.

Some journal prompts relating to asteya to reflect on:

  • How does it make you feel to give and expect nothing in return?
  • Can you think back to a time when you took credit for someone else’s work or their ideas — how did this make you feel?
  • Every day, write down five things you are grateful for. Try to limit repetition as much as possible, the more detailed the better

How can we apply asteya onto the yoga mat?

We can steal from ourselves in our yoga practice with impatience. Aside from the risk of injury, rushing into asanas (postures) that we are not yet ready for is a form of stealing. Mastering certain postures can take years of dedication and practice. Yoga can be extremely hard work and I guarantee that even your favourite yoga teacher will have a pose that they can’t do yet. There is no rush, there is no race. Take your time and enjoy the journey because it will no doubt teach you something valuable.

“There is no rush, there is no race. Take your time and enjoy the journey because it will no doubt teach you something valuable.”

Breathwork for asteya

Golden thread breath for reflection

This calming and empowering breath can give you a moment to pause and reflect on everything you have in life. Find a moment of calm and gratitude.

  • Come into a comfortable position where the body is supported and able to relax.
  • Close the eyes softly and take a big yawn, letting go of any tension in the jaw or face.
  • Parting the lips very slightly, inhale through the nose expanding through the belly, ribs and chest.
  • Exhale through the very thinly parted lips imagining you are blowing out a very fine golden thread of energy from your lips.
  • Repeat for 10 rounds or more.


If you want to understand more about asteya and the other yamas, check out Hannah Barrett’s book Yoga Happy and the yamas and niyamas series on her app, also called Yoga Happy! Visit:

Om Magazine

First published in November 2009, OM Yoga magazine has become the most popular yoga title in the UK. Available from all major supermarkets, independents and newsstands across the UK. Also available on all digital platforms.