Applied Yoga – Part 3: Do Lessons Come In Threes..?

“The Four Locks & Keys”

Yoga teaches more than just postures.

It teaches us how to deal with any interaction (the “Keys”), with anyone in the world, in any moment by dividing their behaviour into what the ancient texts refer to as…

“The Four Locks”.

These are:-

  • Virtuous
  • Happy
  • Unhappy
  • Wicked

Here’s a little true story of something that happened this year – some applied yoga, if you will, explaining…

“The Four Keys”.

Part 1 – Ignore the Wicked

Earlier this year, I received a message on facebook.

It pushed my buttons, ground my gears, triggered me baaaad…

Whatever you want to call it, it made me feel and they weren’t the good feels. I was annoyed and had my retort ready. It wasn’t a pleasant one. It was – in my opinion – funny, smart and correct but it wasn’t pleasant.

Did I send it?

No, I just sent a “thumbs up” instead.

The message I received read:

“Like the picture on facebook. Only one problem. You’re looking too skinny. Start eating. Apart from that, I hope everything is going well for you.”

Not that bad, I know but we all have our buttons and I’ll let you in on why this is (was?) one of mine in a moment. But even without my personal feelings on the words “skinny” and “should”, I’ll first explain why I think this sort of a message belongs truly in the WICKED category.

  1. I haven’t seen the person in question for years.
  2. They are not part of my inner circle.
  3. This was unsolicited advice.

The response I wanted to write was this:

“Like that you like my picture. Only one problem. You’re being a dick. Mind your own business. Apart from that, I hope everything is going well for you.”

I knew the person who sent the message. They are not by any means wicked. I don’t think they meant any harm but I still chose to “disregard” this “wicked” with just a thumbs up and a vent on IG stories instead!

  • Happy
  • Unhappy
  • Virtuous
  • Wicked – Cultivate an attitude of DISREGARD towards the WICKED



But here’s the thing…

The Yoga Sutras are a guide to finding INNER PEACE. And while inner peace is great, sometimes our less-than-fluffy feelings are actually a CALL TO ACTION.

A sign that – here – we’ve found something on earth we’re passionate enough about to want to rectify!

So here’s an open response to that message with a view to educating the masses:


The message might not seem so bad but it got me thinking of all the times people have JUDGED MY APPEARANCE and taken it upon themselves to comment on it plus all the times I’ve heard it going on around me.

These are just things people have said to me:-

“You’re too fat, should you really be eating that cake?”

“Urgh, you’re so skinny it’s disgusting.”

“You look too sad. You should smile more.”

“You look like a boy …”

“Skinny-ass bitch, you should squat more.”

“You’d be prettier if…”

“You should…” blah blah blah…

It’s not ok. Ever.

Part 2 – Be Compassionate to the Unhappy

THE VERY NEXT DAY I was confronted with my trigger-word again. In a partner yoga class, a lady – new to me and new to the discipline – repeatedly called me skinny.

I shit you not, it went something very similar to this:

“You’re so skinny… You make it too difficult. You’re too narrow… Too skinny. Your hips are too close together. So skinny. And too hard… I don’t like doing it with you. You’re too skinny…”

This was a woman that I feel sure would not have said, “You’re too fat,” to me even if she felt it to be true.

She seemed to be more triggered than me!?

Wondering if perhaps it was not wickedness at work – and feeling calmer than the day before – I tried a different tack. Each time she said it, I looked at her, smiled gently while nodding faintly, and sent her love.

The first few times she didn’t make eye contact… but then she did. The next words out of her mouth were:

“I’m sorry.”

Closely followed by, “but you’re so skinny!” (‘Oh well, I’ll take it,’ I chuckled to myself.)

And then immediately followed again by, “I’m sorry.”

Thank you.

  • Happy
  • Unhappy – Cultivate an attitude of COMPASSION for the UNHAPPY
  • Virtuous
  • Wicked – Cultivate an attitude of DISREGARD towards the WICKED

Part 3  – Be Friendly to the Happy & Delight in the Virtuous

TWO DAYS LATER (This is what happens on the yoga path, the lessons come thick and fast!)

There is a lovely, kind, funny, helpful, bubbly lady who owns the huerta where I have my veggie patch. She is like love personified with a laugh and a smile that both come quick and often.

Yesterday she turned to me and said:

Niñita, eres muy delgada. Hay algo mal. ¿Hay alguna razón por la que eres tan delgada?”

Niñita is a term of endearment in Spain.

The rest translates as:

“You are very slim. Is there something wrong? Is there a reason you are so slim?”

She looked deep into mine with her soulful, brown eyes. She smiled at me and I smiled back as I spoke from my heart. In my best Spanish, of course.

I told her that I was once as curvy as she – with magnificent boobies and a beautiful bootie – and that I’d loved that body. I felt at home there.

And that I’d had a car accident after which I’d lost 20kilos. That I’d suffered from digestive issues ever since. That I’d just found a new treatment. That I was currently 12 kilos heavier than the lowest weight I’d seen on the scales (I stopped weighing myself, looking in the mirror and allowing photos for a while.) That it had been hard work and a long slog and I was finally ok with missing the buxom boobies and the bigger bootie as I was healthier and happier than I’d been in years.

She looked at me with such love and embraced me as she kissed me on both cheeks.

Love personified.

  • Happy – Cultivate an attitude of FRIENDLINESS toward the HAPPY
  • Unhappy – Cultivate an attitude of COMPASSION for the UNHAPPY
  • Virtuous – Cultivate an attitude of DELIGHT in the VIRTUOUS
  • Wicked – Cultivate an attitude of DISREGARD toward the WICKED


I disliked how much that first message triggered me. Just words from a practical stranger. Why did I care?

I guess to remind us all to…


And that, thousands of years later, the Yoga Sutras still hold such relevant and wonderful wisdom.


Applied Yoga – Part 4: “Truth is One. Paths are Many.”

Jeannette Amy (Nette) Hopkinson (BSc Hons Sports & Life Sciences) is a Yoga Alliance certified yoga teacher and Oneness Blessing Giver based in Andalucía.

Follow her on IG @nettenirmalayoga or find her on facebook @NirmalaYogaSpain