Diamond Dallas Page explains how he hesitantly turned to yoga to overcome his wrestling injuries. Page went on to found DDP Yoga, a program that borrows heavily from yogic traditions while featuring his own innovations.
Diamond Dallas Page: Yo. It’s me. DDP, Diamond Dallas Page. I didn’t become a professional wrestler until I was 35 years old. My career did not take off until I was 40. That was in 1996 when wrestling blew through the rafters in the cable industry. Monday Night Wars were a huge part of that. Pro Wrestling Illustrated rated Stone Cold Steve Austin as number one and DDP as number four both years which was really crazy coming from obscurity like that. And then I blew my back out. And I blew my back out so badly that three different back specialists said my career was over. I’d actually ruptured my L4 and L5 and it was really bad. Just signed a multimillion dollar three year deal. I mean I finally got paid so, you know, this was the time I worked so hard to get to and now it was all gone. Around that time I was married and my wife at the time was like, why don’t you try doing yoga to heal your body. I was like, yoga. I wouldn’t be caught dead doing yoga. That was the way I felt about it. And long story short, it’s all I really could do.
I was still doing rehab because I had rehabbed back both shoulder surgeries, both knee surgeries and the ruptured L4 and L5, I was trying to nurse that back but it was just so tender and so immovable. I started to do the yoga and in the first three weeks I started to feel a significant difference. It was mind blowing to me. I was very frustrated though because the tapes I was watching, everybody was a stick figure. Everybody could twist themselves up into a pretzel. No one was modifying any position. So I had to figure that out. And then about three weeks in like I said I was feeling pretty good so before I crashed out I decided I want to do some of these yoga positions and I wouldn’t call them poses or postures because, you know, I’m a guy who wouldn’t be caught dead doing yoga. But I started to mix them with the rehabilitation moves and then I was like wow, this sort of flows pretty good. And then over a period of time, next couple of weeks I threw in old school calisthenics, you know, pushups, squats, crunches done with a slow burn movement. And what I figured out – like if you’re lifting weights you’re just jacking weight, you get your heart rate jacked up. But if you lift weights slow and control the weight you’re going to utilize more muscles. And every time you flex or engage a muscle like when you’re doing a slow burn push-up, your heart’s got to beat faster to get the blood to the muscle.
Again, I’m figuring this out because of boredom but again completely by accident. And over a period of three months what would become DDP yoga becomes a kick ass cardiovascular workout that could dramatically increase my flexibility and strengthen my core like never before. But here was the key. Minimal joint impact. In less than three months I was back in the ring. At 42 years old they said my wrestling career was over. At 43 I was the heavyweight champ of the world. So I decided I’m going to keep doing this what I used to call back then yoga for normal people. And then it just sort of took on a life of its own building its way up to DDP yoga.
I was on Shark Tank. They were like the big question is how have you succeeded in a world that is so competitive? How have you succeeded and made all this money in this business? How did you do that? Me and my business partner, Steve Yu, we just looked at them and said we inspire people. No, but really, how did you get the people to be brought in? I go we inspire people. They’re like no but – and you ever saw that – this stuff got cut from Shark Tank because they didn’t get it. I think the first person that had to be inspired was me. Again you’re talking about the guy, you know. Underneath DDP yoga this says it ain’t your mama’s yoga, you know. And I respect all types of yogis. I always say yogis – most yogis very Namaste. DDP yoga – we’re more T&A, you know. Tone and attitude. And we have fun with it.
The whole tone and attitude that makes DDP yoga its own animal has to do with dynamic resistance. All I want you to do is go back to this. Remember this from wresting? Now it’s in DDP yoga and I cannot believe it’s the centerpiece again. Completely by accident or by design, however you choose to look at it. So what I’m going to do is I’m going to take my thumb and index fingers – do this with me at home. I’m not talking to myself. I can get away with that. I was a wrestler. Okay so put your thumb and index fingers together. Now push really hard. Now when you push really hard look at the muscles on my body. Look at my hand, forearm, bicep and pec. They all have to engage. Now straighten your arms out in front. Take your left hand – it will be my right. I want you to pull your pinky away from your thumb like really stretch it. Look what happens to my arm. You can see my tricep. You can see my forearm. But when you take them like this and you push your thumb and your index fingers away and you pull your pinkies away, look what happens to my hand, my forearm, my tricep, my deltoid and my trap. They all have to engage. Now do this with me. Have some fun. Keep pushing your thumb and your index fingers together. Pull your pinkies away. Now as you inhale create resistance as you’re moving. Lean back in your chair, nice stretch. Now bring your arms out to a T. Clench your fists tight. Bring your fists together, your biceps together, your pecs together and hulk it up brother. That’s right. Squeeze it tight, tight, tight. Attention. Shoulders back, chest out. At ease. You can see me starting to perspire. That’s called dynamic resistance.
So whatever you’re trying to do, you need to remember that there will always be better than, less than and different than. That means whoever’s the best - in professional wrestling you might say Hulk Hogan. Everybody under him, less than except for the person or company that’s different than. That’s what DDP yoga is. That’s what Diamond Dallas Page the wrestler was. And that’s why I never even let anybody call DDP yoga, yoga. People come up to me all the time. Autograph signings or personal appearances I’m doing, all excited. DDP, oh my God, I’ve lost 50 pounds. I love your yoga. A big group of people around. I go what’d you call it? They go oh, I lost 50 pounds. I lost 50 pounds doing your yoga. I love it. I go what did you call it? I go what did you call it? They go DDP yoga. It becomes a funny bit. And again you can get away with that but a wrestler. No other yogi’s doing that.
Directed / Produced by Jonathan Fowler and Dillon Fitton