Diamond Dallas Page may be a former 3 time world champion wrestler who eschews yoga “mumbo jumbo” in exchange for chaturanga pushups. He may have been that guy posing with half naked women touting “T & A” to promote his EXTREME yoga workout. He may be the in your face hard ass with the rock ‘n roll intro music, a punchy ‘fist’ed logo and a joking and somewhat cringeworthy tagline “It Ain’t Your Mama’s Yoga!” Pow!
But he’s also the guy who brought his yoga to Iraq and Afghanistan, who helped coach war vet Arthur Boorman literally back to is feet and who is incredibly excited by the prospect of helping people and utterly beside himself about how huge DDP Yoga has blown up in the past couple of weeks.
DDP is a Jersey dude. And he’s got a Jersey attitude (in the best way possible). He loves Bryan Kest, says Shiva Rea is awesome and believes lifestyle change is more important than diets and fads. He’s toned down the boobs and bare bottoms a touch from his original foray in YRG (Yoga for Regular Guys) days almost a decade ago, though his approach may still be more for the P90X crowd than the pious practitioners. But as a veritable antidote to yoga rockstardom and/or the bastard child of yoga, DDP says, who cares?
With a catchphrase like BANG! in short, this mofo is INTENSE. Here’s an intro if you’re unsure what we mean.
We caught up with D over the phone on his way to an acupressure appointment with the “humpty dumpty” doctor who’s been keeping him together since his wrestling days. We spoke with him for over an hour and were treated to a yes, an intense session of impassioned storytelling. Read on. (It’s long, but worth it!)
So there has been quite a media frenzy surrounding the really inspiring video of war veteran Arthur Boorman, a DDP Yoga practitioner who lost over 100 lbs. and was able to walk again after debilitating injuries.
We’ve heard Arthur found DDP Yoga by googling “yoga” and “broken back.” Tell us, how did the video come about?
Steve Yu, a filmmaker, documented Arthur from the beginning and told me about the YouTube video. When it went viral it wasn’t to sell shit, but it sold like crazy. It wasn’t an advertising thing. I did it to inspire people that anything is possible. Steve did it because he’s Mr. Inspiration. [he has a documentary in the works called 'INSPIRED The Movie']
How did you end up working with Arthur?
As part of the program he took pictures and sent them to me and I was like, Oh my god, how am I going to help that guy. The weight thing didn’t bother me, I help plenty of people overweight. But this wasn’t weight, this was knee braces…I didn’t know he was strapped into a back brace, I just thought it was canes. We were emailing at first and I said send me your number.
Do you connect personally with a lot of people who sign up?
I call 6-10 people every day. I used to try to call 27 people in a day. Most people fail because they don’t have a support system. I have one for you [at TeamDDPyoga.com]. Have a question? I write you answers. I taught myself how to read and write in my 30s and 40s. If it’s hard to read (huge belly laugh) I gave you being dyslexic.
As part of DDP Yoga you incorporate diet and food plans. You’re not a fan of fast food. How did that work with Arthur?
At the time I was working with a very good friend and mentor of mine, Dr. Fred Bisci. (http://anydoubtleaveitout.com/) He’s 82 and in awesome shape, and he’s helped so many people through nutrition. Arthur and I talked about a diet. I said, you send me what you’re eating every day and I’ll critique it for you. I’ve done it for a countless amount of people.
I told Arthur, I don’t need to add an MD to the end of my name to tell you, dude, the rate you’re going, living like this, you ain’t going to be living like that much longer.
I said, Arthur, as great as this workout is, as awesome as this eating plan is it’s 10% of the equation. The 90% is between your ears. I did a talk I call “Living life at 90%” and it’s all based on life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% on how you react to it. It’s all about reprogramming your brain for a positive attitude. And that was a pretty big deal with him. I’d say it was the biggest deal.
Not exactly the late Pattabhi Jois’s 99% practice, 1% theory, but it sounds yogariffic. It seems to have made a difference. How did that help?
Two weeks later he told me he lost 4 inches off his stomach and 20 lbs. He asked How do I keep it going? I said that’s awesome, man. Keep doing it. How often are you doing the workout? He said I’m doing the 15 min workout (thats all he could do) 5 days a week. So I said do it 7! If you’re doing it in the morning, try doing one or two at night. Eventually he went from 2 nights a week to 5 nights to 7 nights.
Somewhere around 8 or 10 weeks he sent me his food update and he wrote on the bottom of the page “I WILL WALK AGAIN” in big bold letters. I thought Wow. That’s a bold statement. I’ve always been about writing down your goals.
He lost 100 lbs. in 6 months. But more importantly the knee braces came off, the back brace came off.
Yes, that’s impressive. You don’t promote it as a weight loss program, though?
It isn’t a weight loss program, it’s just an awesome side effect. If you’re overweight I tell you step in, drop to a knee.
I’m gonna disagree with everybody who says that hot yoga is where it’s at, especially for people who are out of shape, because your heart rate goes so high just standing in that hot room. If you’re exerting yourself and you’re not in top condition and your heart rate’s through the roof? In mine [DDP yoga] you stay in your fat burning zone. You don’t over train.
Something you learned in your wrestling days?
I’m doing stupid crazy strong stuff, a guy who go the hell beat out of him for years. I do a lot more working out because I’m 56 years young and I want to show you that if I can do this what can you do.
When I my retrained my body I did 3 hours a day, seven days a week. My goal was to get back in that ring. That was my goal. At 42 I just signed a multi-billion dollar 3-year deal. I had 3 doctors telling me it’s over, great run.
As a pro wrestler you must’ve gotten beaten up pretty good. What injuries did you have?
I’d torn both rotator cuffs, my meniscus, my ACL before, but that wasn’t enough to take you out. It was when I ruptured discs in my L-4 and L-5. Like jelly doughnuts. Where’s that shit gonna go?
Ouch. Is that when you started doing yoga?
I kept doing rehab. I was living on the road 280 days a year, but I was home because of my back. I went to 3 different doctors and they said I’m out. I’m done. I was married at the time, her name is Kimberly, and one day I saw her come up from downstairs soaking wet. I said what are you doing down there? Did you do the stairmaster like a mad woman? She said no, I’m doing that yoga tape. HA! I laughed. She said, no seriously, you should do it, it could help heal your body. Fuck that, I said, I won’t be caught dead doing yoga. That was my attitude.
But then she hit a nerve. She said let me get this right, the guy who will try and do anything, the most flexible guy mentally I know won’t try yoga? And it could actually help heal your body, maybe? So I literally gave in and told her don’t you tell anybody.
Ah, the macho nerve. So who was your first yoga teacher?
I went down to Bryan Kest, who I think is one of the coolest fucks on the planet with a capital K. He was one of my mentors. Three years ago he told me “D you are the doorway to yoga.” He said you’re a mainstream, regular guy and you’re going to relate to people that no yogi can relate to. Now I see it.
I was doing Bryan’s tapes. I couldn’t do half the moves, but I figured out how to modify them. In 3 weeks I started to feel a significant difference. I started to do the moves without the VHS tape. I’d do modified versions of Chaturanga, slowly added some pushups. I started doing all these other moves and incorporated counting to control the breathing.
There’s a reason why in the military they do the “I don’t know but I’ve been told…” while they’re running, because it’s harder to do, but it’s also controlling the breath. Once I learned how to breathe my life changed.
And that’s when I started doing yoga and I did it. I got rid of the spiritual mumbo jumbo, not that there’s anything wrong with that! I really appreciate people who dig that. It wasn’t for me. I just took it and put it over here, and took those awesome yoga positions and combined them with old school calisthenics.
About the mumbo jumbo stuff. Have you read the Sutras or other yoga texts?
laughs. Stop, stop. Uncle! If you go listen to “Live Life at 90%“* you’ll see I live it. I walk the talk.
[he sells the full talk on his website, and it's free to those in the program]
So that’s a no.
But breathing has changed me as a person. Do I still get fucking pissed off? Yeah. I’m still that guy. I’d rather be the other guy. The happy positive inspirational guy.
Does DDP help you keep your cool?
Oh, absolutely. It relieves your tension. DDP yoga was the glue. I could still feel bad and I would be stressed out of my mind. I would hit the mat. Unstoppable.
Do you have a meditation practice?
I do a breathing practice and I don’t do it enough, but I do it at least 2 days a week. I do it when I’m burned out. I breathe in for 10 out for 10 hold for 10. Then I go for 15, then I go for 20. So I breathe once in and out in a minute. Then I do a practice breathing in for 3 out for 3, in for 5 out for 5, in for 10 out for 10, then 20 and on. When I get too crazy I just make myself go to the floor and just breathe. So if you call that meditation I guess it is.
Minus the ‘mumbo’ there is still a philosophy behind DDP Yoga. Where does that come from?
The psychology comes from Randy Pausch, the Carnegie Mellon professor who was dying of cancer and gave his famous last lecture. [See his full lecture here http://www.cmu.edu/randyslecture/ and the reprised version on Oprah below]
Who else in the yoga world has inspired you?
I really love Shiva Rea. For me it’s Erich Schiffmann, Shive Rea and Bryan Kest. To the yoga snobs out there? Well…I’ll just leave it at that. laughs.
And about those detractors?
When the YRG book first came out, I told Bryan I really want to tour around the yoga studios, are there any out there that are cutting edge and might accept me? He said to me that all these studios are so ‘yoga yoga’. He said that when he first started doing the power yoga thing he was like a bastard. They said he was screwing yoga. He said, What are you talking about?
Anybody who’s helping anyone doing anything that’s yogic, ANYTHING works. I’m not going to let anyone belittle what I’m doing. If people don’t like what I’m doing or don’t understand it that’s ok.
So who is DDP Yoga for?
I didn’t make the program for yogis. I didn’t think they’d understand it, the whole gruffness to it. I’m not trying to market to the yogis humming and chanting. I’m marketing to the guys who wouldn’t be caught dead doing what I’m talking about.
So do you think DDP is the gateway drug?
Back to Randy Pausch and the “head fake” (see video below). He had kids thinking they were playing games on computers and while they’re doing it they’re actually learning how to use computers. With yoga I get the guys to do it, and when they’re realize they’re doing it they’re not afraid to go try other stuff.
So many of my friends who would never be caught dead doing yoga not only do my stuff, they go to yoga class. And I think that’s awesome.
Here’s another inspiring and dramatic transformation thanks to DDP Yoga and the continuous support system.
* “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it” is a quote from Charles R. Swindoll, an American writer and evangelical Christian preacher. DDP was inspired by Lou Holtz, former Notre Dame football head coach, whom we imagine must have been inspired by Mr. Swindoll.
- Watch This Man’s Crazy Inspiring Transformation After DDP Yoga (video)
- Diamond Dallas Page Now Prefers Putting Foot Over His Head To Up Someone’s Ass
- Guinness Book’s ‘World’s Oldest Yoga Teacher’ at 93, Tao Porchon-Lynch