I have recently started my yoga teacher training and the first few lessons have been about yoga philosophy and ethics, concepts Yogis have shared in actual yoga classes, without getting too deep. Each topic has a written assignment and quiz to check for a learners understanding of the information, with pass and fail components (which gets a big thumbs up from me from a L&D perspective).

The objective of the philosophy assignment was to look at how the principles of yoga can be applied to daily life, something I hadn’t considered before undertaking my study as. In the past I would turn up to a one hour class and then move on feeling flexible and refreshed to whatever else I had planned for the day. As I worked on my assignment, I looked at how the principles apply in the workplace, where we expend most of the energy in our daily life.

In yoga there a five yamas, also known as principles which apply to different elements of yoga practice. In a nutshell, the yamas are designed to guide us in the way we relate to others, as well as ourselves.  In this blog I’m going to focus on Asteya, the 3rd principle, which is the practice of non stealing. The obvious notions of stealing include scams, robberies, and fraud, but we can also steal energetically and mentally, which occurs a lot in the workplace.

When was the last time you ran late for something? Why is it challenging to say” I have to go now so that I can meet X” ? How do you feel when you’re in a meeting and it goes overtime? Where does your attention go? What do you feel like doing when someone takes credit for your work? How do you feel when someone talks over you? What do you really think of the “loud” person in the room? Wouldn’t it feel liberating to tell someone they are in fact mean spirited, not strong as they purport to be?

These are some examples (and things we wish we could do/say) relating to stealing time, energy, attention and power- dynamics that are common when we engage with peers and clients. Imagine how productive and positive we can be if we were able to reflect on the behaviours that drive the actions. In saying that, at times, some things may be out of our control, but for the most part the control rests with us.

I run late and I know it drives my husband nuts. Apart from the obvious of disrespecting his time, what he noticed long before I did, was that I run late because I squeeze one more thing in between meetings, calls etc, in effect managing my time very poorly, or overestimating my task completion speeds. This drives me nuts too, as it would anyone else it impacts. In my defence, when this does occur, I adjust my expectations of what I have to cover to fit into the time that is left, I don’t expect the other person to give up more of their time when I have taken up some it without being present.   

I talk loud in everyday life, which is a consequence of being a trainer and having voice projection as a superpower, and sinusitis, which means my ears are regularly blocked. When I talk loudly outside of a training environment it is unintentional, and usually gives people a jolt. The act of talking loudly is used by some people to dominate a conversation/ individual, or to draw attention to themselves, to dispense a feeling of superiority. These people are easy to spot as the people around them look worn and are generally unhappy.  

A takeout for me when working on the yoga philosophy assignment was to look at my actions in relation to the yamas and how I can practice them outside of a yoga class. In the example of Asteya, the practice of non stealing, I’ve become more conscious of how my actions impact on others, and if I am taking away rather than giving and adding value. It can be quite challenging to look at our own behaviours and what that means in terms of our identity, but if we keep doing the same thing, we don’t allow ourselves to grow. From a learning and development perspective, we should embrace change be open to new possibilities, and walk the talk we talk.

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