October 1, 2012

How to Deal Mindfully with Jealousy. ~ Shawnee Thornton

The fourth Yama of Ashtanga yoga is Asteya, or “non-stealing.”

Although this might sound simple, there is a greater meaning to practicing Asteya.

As human beings, we all experience feelings of envy and jealousy. We might envy that someone has a beautiful house, a successful career or good looks. We may envy the strength or confidence that someone displays. As yogis, perhaps we envy the girl in the front of the room who can rock a handstand effortlessly. There have been, and will be feelings that come up for us like this, as we are only human.

How can we cultivate Asteya when these feelings arise?

The first step is in understanding where these feelings stem from, where we are directing our attention. When we focus on what we “don’t have,” or what we “can’t” do, we feel discontent and desire what others have.

When we can look at what we “do” have and what we “can” do, our attention will shift towards our own abilities. In this shift, we can find gratitude, perhaps contentment. Possibly with this shift, we can transfer feelings of envy to feelings of admiration and find inspiration in others to challenge ourselves to reach higher or set new goals.

Practicing Asteya in this sense means to not “steal” a person’s joy from their experience or good fortune. When we project energy such as, envy or jealousy on to another, we are essentially “stealing” their joy or positive energy.

The next time you feel envy or jealousy towards someone, sit with it for a moment. Then make the effort to genuinely cultivate excitement, joy or happiness for that person. It will amaze you how feeling gratitude and excitement for another’s good fortune can fill you up with warmth and good feelings!


I am a Special Education teacher of 13 years. I am also a yoga instructor. I have been blessed enough to fuse my passion for yoga and special education and am currently practicing yoga therapy with my students with Autism and special needs along with teaching Vinyasa yoga to a wide range of abilities. I have a beautiful 11 year old daughter, an amazing fiance and an adorable little min pin.  I have  a passion for life and learning and wake up every morning with gratitude for a new day! I live in San Diego, CA.

Editor: Edith Lazenby

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