Hyper-masculine, WWF-loving middle-aged men are not the typical yoga audience. But Diamond Dallas Page, a former professional wrestler himself, is changing all of that.
Page, who goes by the moniker “DDP”, has developed a yoga-based, cardio-pumping program called “Yoga for Regular Guys (YRG)”. The program, which combines yoga poses (many of them renamed from Sanskrit into guy-friendly terms) with calisthenics and isometrics, has a strong and rapidly growing fan base made up of soldiers, army veterans, former athletes and out-of-shape men who would typically be caught dead in a traditional yoga class.
DDP was one of those men once, until an injury sidelined him from his thriving professional wrestling career. His wife encouraged him to try yoga for rehabilitation, and after attempting a few yoga videos, he was hooked. He started adapting the videos to suit his needs, adding more of a cardio and upper-body strengthening slant. The flexibility and stamina he gained from his practice allowed him to return to the wrestling ring and win the WWF World Heavyweight Championship at the ripe age of 43.
Now, DDP brings his unique brand of yoga to the masses, via classes held in Los Angeles and a DVD series. But even those who simply order the DVD get a personalized dose of the former wrestler’s tough love – DDP sends an email to every person who orders his program, even making phone calls to those who correspond with him to give them an extra boost of morale. Take the case of New Yorker Arthur Boorman, a severely obese, bed-ridden Gulf War Veteran who ordered the YRG DVD after being turned away from a local yoga studio. “He basically read me the riot act,” Boorman told The Baltimore Sun in an article about DDP and YRG. “He said, ‘Are you going to leave your wife a widow and your [three] kids without a father?’ Obviously I knew that, but nobody said that to me until he did… He also told me that I could walk again. All I had been thinking was that I might lose some weight and might even get rid of the back pain. Walking again was his idea. The idea that I could walk again gave me great motivation to move forward.”
Ironically, despite his emphasis on self-empowerment, DDP claims that YRG avoids the spiritual side of yoga. Rather, his classes focus on building strength, increasing flexibility, and providing a thorough cardiovascular workout. Participants are encouraged to wear heart monitors during the practice to keep track of their heart rate, which DDP “jacks up” by “engaging the muscles that create isometric pause”. While the yoga poses he uses are based on traditional asanas, you certainly wouldn’t know it from their YRG names: a half forward fold becomes “bar-back”; crescent becomes “superstar”; and cobra is renamed “diamond cutter”.
LA Yoga Magazine writer Kathleen Moloney-Reddington describes a Los Angeles YRG class in her article, Smackdown on the Mat:
“Diamond Dallas Page (DDP) and his “favorite hot yoga babe” Angella Cole sit in lotus. The Rolling Stones are playing as Page’s strong voice instructs the class to get into “touchdown position,” an unusual term for a yoga class… The whole room is drenched in this odd mix of tough and touching, and the class really kicks butt when it comes to athleticism with positions that incorporate dynamic resistance: slow motion isometric muscle activation which engages muscular strength to raise people’s heart rates and increase their fat-burning capacity… Page barks commands at a quick pace, providing alternatives to more difficult poses, while breaking down each move so everyone in the room can work at his or her own level… (He) walks the room correcting in a loud, yet kind voice: ‘You can do this. I’m not going to give up on you.’ ”
YRG may not be a traditional way of practicing yoga, but DDP has succeeded in bringing many of yoga’s most important tenants to typically yoga-wary masses – he leaves his students empowered, inspired and in better physical condition than before.
For more information on YRG, visit www.yrgworkoutllc.com.