We Are All Thieves — and Why We Need to Stop

Lessons on the yoga path

Thou shall not steal — one of the Ten Commandments.

Buddhists teach generosity as part of the second precept of Buddhism which is also often translated as “do not steal.”

Asteya, the third Yama of the 8 Limbs of Yoga, means non-stealing.

And all three ask us to look deeper than physically stealing property from another human.

This is the fourth post in a series of posts about the 8 Limbs. We are still exploring the first limb, but if you’d like to read the other three and an overview first, go here. I’ll wait.

The yamas (moral restraints) comprise the first of the 8 Limbs of Yoga and there are five yamas total. We explored Ahimsa (non-harming) and Satya (truthfulness) in the previous two weeks, and today we’ll take a deeper look at the third yama, Asteya (non-stealing).

Certainly we can translate Asteya in it’s literal sense; we shouldn’t steal from others. I think most of us get that. But what about other not-so-obvious ways we steal? There are lots of them, and I’m betting you’ll see yourself in the following list. I do — see myself, that is. Let me know if you’re guilty too.

Ways We Don’t Practice Asteya

  • Hoarding things instead of getting rid of them.
  • Mindlessly consuming — products, media, time. Hint: social media falls into this category.
  • Keeping others waiting without a valid reason — wasting their time when we probably wasted our own leading up to that point.
  • Checking off that to-do list without fully being in the experience of life.
  • Procrastination.
  • Wasting time doing trivial things when we should attend to more important tasks.
  • Commiting to things we don’t really want to do.
  • Stealing our own worth by buying into a lack story — I don’t have enough. Something is missing. Oh boy, that one. I’ve written about it a few times; I’m still learning.
  • Playing small.
  • Have you ever stolen another person’s ideas and claimed them as your own? I hope not, but it happens.

This list could continue but I think you get the point.

We are all thieves daily — of our time, money, even our worth.

But how do we stop? Mindfulness goes a long way, and it’s a practice. It’s not woo woo, weird or out-there. It’s a practice of slowing down enough to pay attention to our tendencies, examining them fully, learning from our mistakes, and trying to be better humans each day.

What does a happy, fulfilled life look like to you?

I’m happy when I’m learning, growing and trying to be a better me each day.

Spirituality, to me, is as simple as loving more — ourselves and others. I don’t know about you, but at the end of my life, I’d like to look back and see love. Lots of it.

Asteya, along with all of the other 8 limbs help me learn these lessons in concrete ways.

Your path may not look like mine. It doesn’t have to. In fact, maybe it shouldn’t at all. But I’m guessing if you’re reading this you’re trying to be a better you than you were yesterday.

Truth is one. Paths are many. ~Gandhi

And the truth is, you’re worth more than you can possibly imagine. We all are.

Thanks for reading. Did you enjoy? Please tap the 💚 to recommend it to others. Namaste …


Hi! I’m Heather, a writer and yoga educator from SE Ohio. I share daily-ish here as part of my spiritual practice, and am working on my first book, Yoga Prayers. Download the first 25 pages, A Prelude to Yoga Prayers, for a brief introduction into yoga history and philosophy — and let me know what you think! Yogis, I’m also looking for stories to include in the full version of the book — how you came to yoga, what you’re learning, how you’re applying the 8 Limbs. Reach out!