Yoga Times New Year 2016

Asteya/End of term summary


So we reached the end of term having explored our theme of Asteya and what it might mean to us in the context of Yoga classes.

When attempting to translate from Sanskrit we are in danger of losing the essence and true meaning of things. It happens so often that translations from old language into modern day languages actually hide the true meaning of a word rather than invite enquiry as to what is really implied. Thus we started our term with a literal translation of “non stealing” but we were none the wiser as to what that might mean in terms of Yoga practice.

I am so grateful to everyone for taking time to reflect and suggest what Asteya might mean to us in our classes.

My understanding of Asteya is much greater than it was when we began the term and I hope the same applies to you all?

I felt the need to summarise so that if the theme is reintroduced another term we can begin again from where we left off rather than starting right from the beginning. Also, even if our theme changes each term, our understanding and practice of yoga continues to embrace all that we have learnt to date.

If we start with the somewhat inadequate translation of non stealing knowing that in Yogic philosophy we come to this life with nothing and leave with nothing and throughout our lives everything is available for our nourishment and fulfilment as a gift from the Earth. In a biological sense then our earthly embodied existence is one of give and take. We are no different from other creatures in this sense. Our basic biological functions ensures that whatever we take in as food is transformed and excreted back to earth as raw materials for fertilizing and further nourishment.

No matter how sophisticated we might appear to have become there is a symbiotic relationship with nature that begins the moment we are conceived in the womb.

So it became very clear that Asteya must relate to this reciprocal arrangement that exists between ourselves as individuals, and the environment that sustains us.

Taken beyond the basic biological realms we become aware that as individuals we are talented in many different ways and that whilst some are creative in a hands-on skill others are creative in their very thinking. As such this synergistic relationship is extended so that we are all engaged on many levels in this mutually beneficial relationship between ourselves and others.

I hope that the group work we did this term helped to demonstrate this point.

I asked that you all consider your different talents and offer them to your group in order to devise a Yoga sequence that would suit everyone in your group.

It became apparent that some are naturally disposed to recognising and sharing their skills whilst others are less confident in this reciprocal arrangement, so I know it was a massive challenge for some of you. Yet I noticed as we continued that many of you recognised that your contribution was vital for the project to work, and the groups created very different sequences that were practical and beneficial to all in spite of massive differences in physical abilities.

What I most love about Yoga is that it offers a safe place and time to play around with these ideas, which we then can embrace in our lives for a more wholesome existence.

So non-stealing is not simply dividing the world into “mine and yours” but instead ensuring that we all contribute whilst taking what we need at the same time, for fulfilment in our lives. This energy of Asteya becomes “stealing” when we either refuse to contribute or we take more than we need at a cost to others.

 Recognise it? It is a massive problem in our world today. Right?

As such I think Asteya means more in today’s world than ever before.

On a personal level when working with the physical body, we need to make sure that all parts of the body benefit from our practice.  Remember always the microcosm reflects the macrocosm what applies out there applies within our personal environment. A home practice was suggested this term so that we can start to appreciate exactly what this implies.

Within that home practice we also need to consider the mind and although mindfulness is featured throughout our physical practice we will no doubt benefit from including a meditative practice in our home plan.

Finally I hope you noticed that our pranayama practice this term reflected this attitude of give and take. We gathered clarity, understanding and awareness and drew it into our hearts where we combined it with compassion and kindness to distribute out into our environment and eventually the whole world through our breath.

 Thank you for sharing this journey with me and what a fabulous term it has been.

I should also just reiterate that we are also in a symbiotic teacher/learner relationship with each other because I am always learning so much from you, which I share with other classes, and eventually we all benefit from this.


So where are we headed as the new year starts?

I have an idea that we might explore the meaning and application of Brahmacharya in Yoga practice.

Be careful though as the literal translation is commonly referred to as celibacy but you may already have guessed that it really has a much more relevant and significant meaning.

In order to get to the bottom of this mystery I think we should explore the chakra system at the same time, since Brahmacharya is really about energy.

Herein lies another challenge as the chakra system is commonly in danger of becoming an intellectual learning experience, which is often open to misinterpretation and risks being meaningless without direct experience.

So our term begins with another mystery to unravel and all the challenges that that entails.

I hope that you will enjoy a new term and a new journey with me.


Wishing you all a very happy new year.




Published by liz on Sunday, 3 January 2016, last updated on Sunday, 3 January 2016 at 3:49PM
Categories: Yoga Times

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