Gossiping about.. Yoga?

Through the Yoga Teaching Course, the instructors have shared their experiences with us, sharing with the realities of being part of the Yoga Industry. As with anything involving humans, there will be tensions, disagreements, occasional unwelcome comments – misunderstandings or not, we are exposed to the complexities of human relations and communication every single day. And this is no different teaching Yoga, or running a Yoga studio here in Singapore.

Having learnt a little about the philosophy of Yoga, it is hard to imagine how the practice of Yoga fits with the act of gossiping. I take the word “gossip” in this post to include any form of communication that is done behind a person’s back, directly or indirectly implying some kind of negative connotation, based on half or perceived truth. Gossip is an act of Himsa (violence) and Asatya (untruthfulness), it differs in terms of extent, but it is nonetheless the same fundamentally.

So I ask myself, why do we gossip? What do we get out of it that makes it so easy for us to do it? Firstly, gossip brings people together, it is a shared view. Shared views give people a sense of belonging and community, even if it is for that fleeting moment. Even I cannot deny that sometimes when I have information that I know would be found “interesting” by my friends, I cannot help but want to share it, even if I know it is not exactly positive. And we all know, that “juicy” news is rarely about how “good” a person is. Secondly, gossip sometimes is a hidden cry for reassurance. Often when we share some negative information about others to our friends, we actually desire their agreement, confirmation, that they are “on your side”, and that your view is “right”.

Therefore, I find myself asking myself, is not gossip a reflection of this inner conflict, inner torment, questions about ourselves that we are seeking outside ourselves. As practitioners of Yoga, we are privileged in a way that we have access and understanding of an alternative way of answering the questions within us. And where there is peace within us, there would be no fear, no insecurity, no desire to hurt someone (whether intentionally or unintentionally) with our words. Through Yoga, we discover the complexities of our own minds, bodies and souls. We begin a journey to discover and fully understand and gain control and union over all these parts. With such a huge, and exciting task at hand, how can we find time and energy to explore the complexities of another being?

Don’t get me wrong, I often find myself gossiping too, whether intentionally or not, malicious or not, saying something behind a person’s back, something that I know he/she would not want to hear, raises alarm bells, and I now recently I find myself observing myself and questioning myself, “is this ok?” I guess for someone like me, who has really only JUST started on this journey of Yoga, building awareness and observing myself (Swadhyaya) is where I choose to start. And I hope that I can live out the quote “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” (Mahatma Gandhi)