asteya in action

Asteya blog

The artwork above is part of our shopper series exploring the yamas and is in stores now. To introduce you to the concept of Asteya a little more, we asked people from around lululemon how they practice (or don’t practice) it.

what is asteya?

Literally translated as “non-stealing/non-coveting” or “avoidance of stealing /coveting”, the yama of Asteya (ush-TAY-uh) asks that we take only what is offered and use only what we need. The practice of Asteya emphasizes interconnectedness and teaches us that our actions have repercussions – some that we see; most that we do not. Through Asteya, we learn that when we take what is not offered, we show a lack of respect for others. When we take more than we need, we leave less for everyone else.

To fully understand Asteya, it helps to think about the source of “stealing/coveting” behavior. Stealing, or the desire to take from someone else, is based in a feeling of lack, and sometimes originates from a sense of entitlement – a feeling or belief that we deserve something that we have not yet earned. The root of the behavior is a belief that one’s own wants and needs are more important than those of others. This self-importance, selfishness, and sense of entitlement can manifest as negative behaviors.

When we choose to practice Asteya, we attract abundance in our lives because we no longer desire things that exist outside ourselves. We no longer feel the sense of entitlement that can drive us towards stealing and coveting behaviors. We learn through Asteya that everything we need in life is already within us.

examples of asteya in action

Screen Shot 2013-06-26 at 12.47.59 PM1. asteya & leadership
From Brenna, Cow Hollow store manager:

Sharing knowledge, training, feedback, coaching and development is a way of practicing Asteya.

You have the information because someone was generous enough to share it with you, and by not giving it back (or paying it forward), you are being stingy and taking more than your share. When all you do is TAKE (whether its development, feedback, etc) and don't make an effort to GIVE (feedback, development, coaching, etc) you aren't practicing Asteya.

The repercussion is not only imbalance (more taking than giving), but also the cost to the other person of not having that knowledge. What kind of leader has information that they know will support another person in their growth and development and then actively chooses not to give it?

Screen Shot 2013-06-26 at 12.56.23 PM2. asteya
From Erik, Director of Asset Protection for lululemon

Asteya is a way of being. It is a daily practice, and we always want to elevate ourselves and those around us and show people how to powerfully impact their lives.

Thousands of years ago, the idea of non-stealing encompassed both tangible and non-tangible objects; all still things people have rights around. This concept could include someone’s time, someone’s joy, and idea that someone has, or something as simple as the space in a conversation for someone else to speak up.

At lululemon we learn through Asteya that everything we need in life is already within us.

When we govern ourselves through the practice of Asteya we enhance our culture of honesty and integrity; thus naturally achieving our asset protection goals.

Screen Shot 2013-06-26 at 12.58.00 PM3. asteya & gratitude
From Gillian, designer of the Asteya artwork

I would say that I practice Asteya every day in that I value people's time, because as a busy person myself I realize that it is a very precious thing. We use the term "giving the gift of time" when we finish a meeting earlier than planned and I think it's such a perfect connection to the idea of Asteya.

Although time is less tangible than a gift, it’s still incredibly valuable. I try to arrive at meetings prepared and having done my pre-work, and although I love a good tangent and lots of laughter and jokes, I always try to reign in when things have gone off topic – the gift of time is there so we CAN enjoy those moments.

Don't get me wrong, its not all rules and seriousness, it's just that I really truly want to get things done so I can enjoy all the other things that life has to offer, like a yoga class at lunch.

Learn more about the yamas here.
How do you practice asteya in your everyday life?

read more related posts:


Awesome post

Comment by Bliss — July 11, 2013 @ 12:46 pm

Wonderful post! I think most people are pretty good at practicing Asteya with the tangibles. It’s the intangibles that challenge us.

I find that practicing asteya is especially difficult in a family setting. For example, perhaps we respect our friends and coworkers time but fail to notice how not cleaning up after ourselves at home can negatively impact our family members.

Comment by Tammy — July 18, 2013 @ 9:25 am

This is a great post. So often we forget that knowledge, developement, coaching, and feedback should also be included in asteya. Thank you to all for your reminders.

Comment by Karen — July 18, 2013 @ 9:26 am

Wonderful reminder!!! Thank you for sharing! Great post!

Comment by Diane — July 18, 2013 @ 5:52 pm

How do I practice? Live below your means but within your needs. I don’t need a lot to make me happy or comfortable.

Comment by Simone — July 20, 2013 @ 1:42 pm

I have been a loyal customer at lululemon for quite some time. I absolutely love the clothes. I have spent a lot of money on clothes that are similar in function to clothes I could purchase at another store for much less. That is my choice and this is not meant to be a complaint about the cost of your product. However, I do have a problem with the current Asteya shopping bags. The quote on the bag reads: “We learn through Asteya that everything we need in life is already within us.”

I find this to be a huge contradiction in principles. Lululemon is a company that markets and sells luxuries, which by itself, there is nothing wrong with. However, luxuries are by definition, things we don’t need. So how and why would a company that profits from the sale of LUXURY items in all honesty put such a quote on a bag? The REAL message that seems to come across is, you already have everything you need, except our products. THOSE, you need. Lululemon thrives off of a cult following of mostly women who obsessively buy the clothes, but I have personally never been told at the time of my purchase “Ma’am, you have all the clothes you will ever need. This purchase isn’t necessary.” Nor, have I met anyone else who has ever been told that. I have no problem with seeking a profit, or spiritualism. But in this case, you are directly contradicting yourself.

Comment by Julie — July 25, 2013 @ 11:51 am

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