In this monthly series on the Yamas and Niyamas, Swami Karunananda offers wisdom and reflections on applying these foundational principles of Yoga in daily life. This month’s focus is on Asteya, non-stealing.

Sutra 2.37: To one established in non-stealing, all wealth comes. —from The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali


There are five types of interactions one can have, based on how much we give and how much we take. The person who takes 100% and gives back nothing is a thief. The person who takes 100% and returns 50% is a debtor. A person who gives 100% and gets back 100% would be a fair businessman. A righteous person would give 100%, while taking only 50%. And a saint would give 100% and take nothing.

Look at how you move through life and determine which category seems to best describe your actions. Then, try to shift to being more giving in your interactions.

FROM THE TIRUKKURAL (South Indian scripture often quoted by Swami Satchidananda): 

“Wealth gained through theft, though seeming to grow, will end in total loss.”

“Wealth will enquire the way and go to that person who has unwavering zeal.”

“Perseverance generates prosperity; lack of perseverance engenders poverty.”

“What is not destined to be yours will not stay even if you guard it; what is destined to be yours will not leave even if you cast it aside.”


“Thou shalt not steal.”


  1. Do I take things that don’t belong to me?
  2. Do I use things that don’t belong to me without asking permission?
  3. Do I present the ideas of others as if they were my own?
  4. Do I steal the time of others by:
    Being late
    b. Not preparing well beforehand for appointments, excursions or meetings
    c. Not following through when I’ve made a commitment
  5. Do I steal from others by being possessive in my relationships?
  6. Do I expect others to clean up after me?
  7. Given that my life is continuously supported by Mother Nature, do I receive each breath with gratitude and serve as best I can in every moment so as not to be a debtor?
  8. Consider how the interplay of past actions and more recent efforts has produced your current situation. Determine how to balance renewed effort with acceptance as you move forward.


Once two boys were having an argument. One child said: “I will give you a mango if you can show me where God is.” The other boy replied, “I will give you a mango if you can show me where God is not!”

There is a higher consciousness, an all-pervasive awareness, that takes note of all that we say and do, all that we think and feel. If we steal in any way, it gets noted. Eventually, either our own conscience will bring it to light or the karmic law will rectify the situation.

About the Author:

Swami Karunananda is a senior disciple of Sri Swami Satchidananda. In 1975, she was ordained as a monk into the Holy Order of Sannyas. She has had almost 50 years experience teaching all aspects of Yoga and specializes now in workshops, retreats, and teacher training programs that focus on the science of meditation, the philosophy of Yoga, personal transformation, and Yoga breathing techniques for better health and well-being. She developed, and for 30 years has taught, the Integral Yoga Teacher Training programs in Raja Yoga and in Meditation.

Swami Karunananda served as president of Satchidananda Ashram–Yogaville in Virginia and in California, as well as director of the Integral Yoga Institutes in San Francisco and in Santa Barbara. She currently serves on the Board of Trustees, and as the chairperson of the Spiritual Life Board at Satchidananda Ashram–Yogaville, Virginia.

Interested in fostering interfaith understanding and harmony, she is featured in the interfaith documentary entitled, With One Voice. She also compiled and edited the Lotus Prayer Book, a collection of prayers from various faith traditions, and Enlightening Tales as told by Sri Swami Satchidananda. She served as contributing editor for The Breath of Life: Integral Yoga Pranayama, as well as a senior writer for the Integral Yoga Magazine. In her book, Awakening: Aspiration to Realization Through Integral Yoga, she describes the spiritual path and provides guidance for the journey.