Asteya Pratisthayam sarva ratnopasthanam.

Yoga Sutra 2.37

When established in non-stealing, wealth comes.

I usually teach this Yama (1 of 5 restraints in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras) in terms of trying not to progress your physical practice too quickly. When you try to do a head stand or hand stand before you can hold down dog or do a chaturanga with ease and proper form, you're missing out on the beauty of the process of the asanas. Essentially, stealing from yourself what only time and consistent practice can cultivate.

However, this week, I have experienced a whole new dimension of this Sutra, the yama (restraint), Asteya (non-stealing). I took away from the experience of another instructor's class by allowing myself to be the center of attention and stealing their focus and attention.

Do you ever do something that at the time seemed like an OK thing to do, with what you thought were good intentions but... later with the gentle reprimand of a friend who graciously explained in so many words that what you did was not only uncool but unprofessional? In wanting to "help" with servility, I offered an adjustment (ok, I didn't offer, I just did it... without asking) to a student in someone else's class. Not only that, but I did it in a way that was loud and disruptive. (I know, hard to believe. What was I thinking?!)

More humble pie. I thought I'd had my fair share of humility lessons a month or so back but obviously my ego was hungry for some more, and I didn't realize it until... it was too late. Our motives while we think they are pure are usually deep down more about us than anything else. What was my motive in wanting to adjust in class? To show I was more knowledgeable than the other teacher? To show the students that they need my help and aren't "doing it right"... no, of course not. But with my over-zealous behavior, I'm pretty sure that's how I came across.

Adjustments in yoga and pilates group classes are "touchy" area with strong opinions one way or the other. Physical adjustments are making body alignment corrections by touching the student. Some feel adjustments should be only verbal (I generally do this first). Some feel that you can only touch if you have individually asked each person permission (I usually announce in the beginning of class giving students an opportunity to tell me back off but often forget since it's second nature in my teaching at this point). I've even heard of an instructor who uses cards on the edges of the mat. Green: yes. Red: no. (Really?!) In Peak Pilates, they teach all sorts of techniques or ways to "spot" to enable the student to feel the exercise and perform it safely. (I find it almost necessary to beginning pilates students who often lack basic body awareness.)

But, corrections in someone else's class- this should only happen with agreement. Sigh. Here's where instead of wallowing in my behavior (prideful and only made me feel worse), I have to just chalk it up to: a lesson in needing to be more mindful in every way. I am grateful for the lesson and feel oddly enriched because of it.


  1. Where are the yellow cards in yoga class? Sigh is a sign, right? Silence is gold.


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