The first limb of Yoga is Yama. The Yamas are the abstinence practices for actions from which we should constrain ourselves.
The first of these five practices is Ahimsa, non-violence. To practice non-violence we need to start watching ourselves and take note of how not only our actions, but also our words, thoughts, and energy affect others. Hitting someone is a blatant act of violence. What about harsh words and wishing someone ill will? We’ve all felt that knot in our stomachs when someone gives us the evil eye. Every little thing we do, say, think, and feel affects others in some way. Practicing non-violence compels us to be conscious of and to consider the consequences of all our actions. It forces us to push selfishness aside, and become loving and considerate individuals. Ahimsa is a practice of love.
The second practice is Asteya, non-stealing. Besides not robbing a bank or stealing someone’s wallet, this is the practice of not taking from others and not acquiring what we do not need or use. Material possessions can be taken from others, but so can intangible things such as energy. Some of us may have a friend or family member who drains our energy or brings us down whenever we’re around them. Or we may do it to others. This is energetic and emotional stealing.
Having and acquiring things that we do not need or that just sit stored away for years is stealing from those, like the homeless or a struggling unemployed family, who do need or could use those things. And it’s not just people we can steal from. Think about how that twenty minute shower or leaving the electronics plugged in when on a two week vacation is stealing vital resources from our planet. Practicing Asteya teaches us to not be wasteful and greedy.