By abiding in freedom from the desire for other's possessions, that which is precious is revealed, and all that is beneficial is freely given
Yoga Sutra II,37 translation by Mukunda Stiles
Yamas - observances for living well - are the first of Patanjali's guidance for yogis: the third of the yamas is asteya: non-stealing.
On a basic level, not stealing is one of the oldest rules of society and most of us would hope never to steal anything knowingly or unknowingly.
But it is not only belongings that we can steal ... taking away from another person's happiness, confidence, time, energy or ideas is stealing of a sort, as is betraying someone's trust; and envying someone else's life, or at least how that life is presented online or elsewhere, is the covetousness of the modern age.
Being satisfied with ourselves, our own gifts, and what we have is a quiet kind of spiritual practice; gratitude for all that we have been given is a baseline attitude for living well.
Giving more than we receive, opening our hearts toward the crotchety as well as the friendly, will bring us closer to freedom and happiness than jealously guarding what we have or hankering after someone else's life or possessions.
Science is catching up with Patanjali: research has shown that volunteering, mentoring, working for a good cause and random acts of kindness are good for mental health: these acts stimulate feelgood neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin, and reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness, the dual curses of the modern age.
Practising asteya is part of our commitment to the environment too: considering carefully what we buy and how it has been produced, taking only what we need so that resources such as food are not wasted and trying where we can to reduce our own negative impact on the environment are all manifestations of asteya.
Bringing a sense of asteya to formal yoga practice might take the form of celebrating the beauty of another person's practice rather than finding yourself lacking in comparison; or not robbing yourself of the glory of your own asana or meditation practice by chiding yourself for what it isn't, rather than enjoying what it is. Refrain from from grasping always for the next thing in your practice or training and allow things to unfold more naturally instead, with faith that what you will receive will be just right for you.
Patanjali teaches that all wealth comes to those who practise asteya; that by opening our hands and hearts to the world and sharing our gifts and talents freely, by ceasing taking too much or jealously guarding what we already have, we will receive the gift of receiving freely, exactly that which we need.