Asteya is the third of the five Yamas presented in the Yoga Sutra. Asteya is translated as Non-Stealing. Recently I have found myself contemplating Ateya in relation to how we as yoga teachers create our unique voice or teaching style.
I often find myself inspired by other teachers when I attend their classes. Sometimes it’s an alignment cue or a new variation of a posture, and other times it’s a shared reading or the teacher’s genuine words. When we have these moments in other teachers’ classes, it is only natural that we want to bring these aspects that so inspire us into our own teaching.
As yoga teachers there is what I would consider a large pool of common property when it comes to cues, postures, sequences, phrases, music and even themes to draw from when teaching. Then there is what I would consider our creative or intellectual property. A big part of each teacher’s yoga journey is going within themselves to discover their own unique voice. This is where Asteya comes into play. We must take care not to take from one’s unique voice or teaching style.
This is not to say that I think it is wrong to incorporate things that we learn in other classes into our own, rather, I feel that we must be thoughtful in how we do it. When I introduce a new posture or variation I learned from one of my teachers, I make a point to mention where I learned it. Or if I repeat words that resonated with me whether from a book or from my teacher, I am sure to give them credit. It is very simple. Give credit where it is due.
When it comes to a teacher’s unique teaching style or voice, we should not try to emulate or copy them. Not only because I feel it is treading on Asteya, but more so because it takes us away from our own voice. Yoga means “to yoke” or “unite”. It is essentially a journey to wholeness, but we must look within ourselves to get there.