I’m sorry to say that I love gossip. I know that I’m not alone in this. I’ve been out to coffee after yoga class too many times and shared tittle-tattle-laced-caffeine with colleagues and students. Gossip can range from “what’s the buzz?” to outright scandal. It’s fascinating to me to hear what other yoga teachers are up to and how their schools are going. How are the Bikram schools going versus the Iyengar schools? Who has the biggest numbers of students and the plushest studios? The truth is that we have lots of opinions and judgments about what other people get up too. Despite my taste for gossip, as part of my yoga practice, I’ve attempted not to spread gossip, and also tried to avoid listening to it. It takes at least two to tangle in spicy tidbits – a talker and a listener, and all it requires is the listener to say they are uninterested for the conversation to end. Something I read years ago by the business management guru, Stephen Covey, stayed with me. The gist of his thinking is that people won’t trust that you won’t be gossiping about them, when they’re not around, if they hear you telling tales about someone else. Trust is a commodity as valuable as gold or silver, but much more easily destroyed. I like to relate gossip to one of the Yama – Asteya (non-stealing). When you spread gossip about an individual, you steal their reputation. You influence the person you’re gossiping with to look at another person through a grimy lens. When you get right down to it what you say says more about you than the person you’re talking about.
The master of yoga practice, BKS Iyengar in his lovely book, Light on Life, says we all get pricks of conscience when we go counter to the Yama and Niyama. God is having a little word with us in those moments. Hopefully our hearing is acute enough to get and act on the message.