Feeling overwhelmed with the sheer amount of choice you have as a consumer? Not quite sure how this fits in with something as esoteric sounding as a yama? Join me as I share exactly why our third yama – asteya – is more relevant than ever for modern day yoga practitioners.
Asteya: often translated as non-stealing, or non greed. Whilst I probably don’t need to spell out that non-stealing means not shoplifting, not nicking stationary from work, not “borrowing” a top from your friend only to never return it, it’s worth sitting back and really thinking about what this means – and why we should bother with it anyway.
Give Me Some Examples . . .
Let’s face it, the world is pretty complex. And in our global society, it’s not always easy to know that you’re making the right choice as a consumer. In fact, it can be downright overwhelming. Is it stealing when we buy clothes from outlets who use child labour or appalling factory conditions to make their garments? Are we stealing when we buy our groceries from the supermarkets who get those 2-for-1 offers by squeezing farmers and small scale producers? And how many purchases are we making that we really, genuinely need?
But I’m not here to make you feel guilty. Hell, there’s enough of that to go around already. Let’s remember why we should practise asteya to begin with. The benefit may surprise you: it’s actually wealth. Intrigued? Read on!
Using Asteya On The Mat
Let’s take ourselves back to a place most of us reading this article will be fairly familiar with: the yoga mat.
This isn’t so much about trying not to nick all the props for yourself, but more about the attitude you bring to the mat. Coveting someone else’s ‘amazing’ back bend, or envying someone’s brightly patterned leggings is not going to help us feeling wealthier or richer. Being wealthy is more than just the situation in our bank balance. Wealth is a feeling we have about ourselves, and how we relate to the world.
And although I will admit the vast range of colourful yoga clothes out there is pretty impressive, by only really taking what we need – and knowing when we have enough – we give ourselves the feeling of being truly wealthy. If one or two pairs of those gorgeous leggings is going to make you feel good, then go for it! Maybe for someone else, it’s important to draw the line at 50!
Moving Asteya Off The Mat
In Matthew Remski’s contemporary translations of the Sutras, he simply describes Asteya as…
…when you practise fair trade your feeling of wealth is enhanced.
What does fair trade mean to you? Below are some of my failsafe ways of trying to be a more ethical shopper:
- Only buy what you love
Someone once gave me this great piece of advice, and it’s a brilliant way of really enjoying your money without getting any post-shopping guilt.
- Look at the label
And look carefully! Whatever you’re looking for (organic, fair trade, local), it’s worth doing some research and understanding what those labels mean. Increasing your knowledge of the often vast range of symbols and words found on food labelling can make you a more confident, ethical and happy shopper.
- Grow something
Cherry tomatoes grow surprisingly well on a sunny window ledge. You don’t need a garden (although if you do then an herb bed or flower patch could be a-calling!). There are allotments, community farms and much more, often in surprisingly urban locations! If getting your hands dirty isn’t your thing, you can support those who are. Find out more about how to buy directly from farmers.
For me, any changes I want to make to my life need to be easy, simple and convenient. Getting a local veg box delivered has been amazing! I just set up a regular payment, and every fortnight a delicious box of fresh fruit and vegetables arrive on my doorstep – it’s just like getting a present! Supporting local shops (Bristol is full of them if you’re ever in town), and following the ‘only buy what you love rule’ has saved me from filling the cupboard with unnecessary stuff.
Does any of the above inspire you to make a change in your shopping habits? Or do you have a great rule of your own that you can share? Even just buying your daily coffee from a local cafe, or making sure it’s fair-trade or organic (or both!) can begin to make a big difference. Please do share the change you will make – or already have made – in your life to make you feeling like a wealthier person.