When I was a kid, I had an image of a “burglar” that probably came from Sesame Street or The Electric Company. It was a cartoon of a male, wearing pants and a turtleneck, with a cap and mask. This burglar had a sack of stolen goods, or dollars, and was being sneaky, glancing over his shoulder and tiptoeing. Theft was presented to me as the stealing of things, of possessions, or of money.
Now I know, as many of us know, that there is so much else that is stolen or taken. Land is stolen. Practices are stolen. Credit for achievement is stolen. Ideas are stolen. Identities are stolen. Personal information is stolen. We can even take up space in a conversation that is essentially stealing that space from another. Even if what is taken is hard to quantify, it is stealing nonetheless.
The third Yama, or restraint, is Asteya, to not take, appropriate, or steal what is not ours. This is a belief that 8 Limbs holds dear. We are aware there is a very fine line between appreciation and appropriation – of yoga for example. We are aware that our business stands on Coast Salish tribe land, and that we are guests on this land. We are aware that our business is based on exchanges of time and money between us, our customers, and our staff. And we are actively asking questions around this Yama in order to refine our relationship to Asteya.
On this month’s Day of Thanksgiving, our annual Benefit Classes (classes at each studio to be posted by 11.8.19) will raise money for Real Rent Duwamish, in a small effort to acknowledge and make reparations for the theft of this land:
“Though the city named for the Duwamish leader Chief Seattle thrives, the Tribe has yet to be justly compensated for their land, resources, and livelihood. You can do something today to stand in solidarity with First Peoples of this land by paying Real Rent. All funds go directly to Duwamish Tribal Services (DTS) to support the revival of Duwamish culture and the vitality of the Duwamish Tribe.”
Learn more and donate here: https://duwamishtribe.networkforgood.com/
To reflect on Asteya, we can consider why we take what is not ours. Is it a belief that we don’t have enough? Or that we ourselves are not enough? The teachings of yoga say that it occurs because we think we are separate from other beings.
Take some time this month to consider what you might be taking from another, and how you might shift gears. Practice gratitude for what you do have, for the spaces you are able to inhabit, the access you have to resources, information, and connection. Instead of taking from another, give!
Happy Fall to all.
Posted by: Anne Phyfe Palmer, 8 Limbs Yoga Centers Founder and Teacher Training Director