Diamond Dallas Page: Don't Call It Yoga, Brother

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

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.

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Political division is nothing new. Throughout American history there have been numerous flare ups in which the political arena was more than just tense but incideniary. In a letter addressed to William Hamilton in 1800, Thomas Jefferson once lamented about how an emotional fervor had swept over the populace in regards to a certain political issue at the time. It disturbed him greatly to see how these political issues seemed to seep into every area of life and even affect people's interpersonal relationships. At one point in the letter he states:

"I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend."

Today, we Americans find ourselves in a similar situation, with our political environment even more splintered due to a number of factors. The advent of mass digital media, siloed identity-driven political groups, and a societal lack of understanding of basic discursive fundamentals all contribute to the problem.

Civil discourse has fallen to an all time low.

The question that the American populace needs to ask itself now is: how do we fix it?


Discursive fundamentals need to be taught to preserve free expression

In a 2017 Free Speech and Tolerance Survey by Cato, it was found that 71% of Americans believe that political correctness had silenced important discussions necessary to our society. Many have pointed to draconian university policies regarding political correctness as a contributing factor to this phenomenon.

It's a great irony that, colleges, once true bastions of free-speech, counterculture and progressiveness, have now devolved into reactionary tribal politics.

Many years ago, one could count on the fact that universities would be the first places where you could espouse and debate any controversial idea without consequence. The decline of staple subjects that deal with the wisdom of the ancients, historical reference points, and civic discourse could be to blame for this exaggerated partisanship boiling on campuses.

Young people seeking an education are given a disservice when fed biased ideology, even if such ideology is presented with the best of intentions. Politics are but one small sliver for society and the human condition at large. Universities would do well to instead teach the principles of healthy discourse and engagement across the ideological spectrum.

The fundamentals of logic, debate and the rich artistic heritage of western civilization need to be the central focus of an education. They help to create a well-rounded citizen that can deal with controversial political issues.

It has been found that in the abstract, college students generally support and endorse the first amendment, but there's a catch when it comes to actually practicing it. This was explored in a Gallup survey titled: Free Expression on Campus: What college students think about First amendment issues.

In their findings the authors state:

"The vast majority say free speech is important to democracy and favor an open learning environment that promotes the airing of a wide variety of ideas. However, the actions of some students in recent years — from milder actions such as claiming to be threatened by messages written in chalk promoting Trump's candidacy to the most extreme acts of engaging in violence to stop attempted speeches — raise issues of just how committed college students are to
upholding First Amendment ideals.

Most college students do not condone more aggressive actions to squelch speech, like violence and shouting down speakers, although there are some who do. However, students do support many policies or actions that place limits on speech, including free speech zones, speech codes and campus prohibitions on hate speech, suggesting that their commitment to free speech has limits. As one example, barely a majority think handing out literature on controversial issues is "always acceptable."

With this in mind, the problems seen on college campuses are also being seen on a whole through other pockets of society and regular everyday civic discourse. Look no further than the dreaded and cliche prospect of political discussion at Thanksgiving dinner.

Talking politics at Thanksgiving dinner

As a result of this increased tribalization of views, it's becoming increasingly more difficult to engage in polite conversation with people possessing opposing viewpoints. The authors of a recent Hidden Tribes study broke down the political "tribes" in which many find themselves in:

  • Progressive Activists: younger, highly engaged, secular, cosmopolitan, angry.
  • Traditional Liberals: older, retired, open to compromise, rational, cautious.
  • Passive Liberals: unhappy, insecure, distrustful, disillusioned.
  • Politically Disengaged: young, low income, distrustful, detached, patriotic, conspiratorial
  • Moderates: engaged, civic-minded, middle-of-the-road, pessimistic, Protestant.
  • Traditional Conservatives: religious, middle class, patriotic, moralistic.
  • Devoted Conservatives: white, retired, highly engaged, uncompromising,
    Patriotic.

Understanding these different viewpoints and the hidden tribes we may belong to will be essential in having conversations with those we disagree with. This might just come to a head when it's Thanksgiving and you have a mix of many different personalities, ages, and viewpoints.

It's interesting to note the authors found that:

"Tribe membership shows strong reliability in predicting views across different political topics."

You'll find that depending on what group you identify with, that nearly 100 percent of the time you'll believe in the same way the rest of your group constituents do.

Here are some statistics on differing viewpoints according to political party:

  • 51% of staunch liberals say it's "morally acceptable" to punch Nazis.
  • 53% of Republicans favor stripping U.S. citizenship from people who burn the American flag.
  • 51% of Democrats support a law that requires Americans use transgender people's preferred gender pronouns.
  • 65% of Republicans say NFL players should be fired if they refuse to stand for the anthem.
  • 58% of Democrats say employers should punish employees for offensive Facebook posts.
  • 47% of Republicans favor bans on building new mosques.

Understanding the fact that tribal membership indicates what you believe, can help you return to the fundamentals for proper political engagement

Here are some guidelines for civic discourse that might come in handy:

  • Avoid logical fallacies. Essentially at the core, a logical fallacy is anything that detracts from the debate and seeks to attack the person rather than the idea and stray from the topic at hand.
  • Practice inclusion and listen to who you're speaking to.
  • Have the idea that there is nothing out of bounds for inquiry or conversation once you get down to an even stronger or new perspective of whatever you were discussing.
  • Keep in mind the maxim of : Do not listen with the intent to reply. But with the intent to understand.
  • We're not trying to proselytize nor shout others down with our rhetoric, but come to understand one another again.
  • If we're tied too closely to some in-group we no longer become an individual but a clone of someone else's ideology.

Civic discourse in the divisive age

Debate and civic discourse is inherently messy. Add into the mix an ignorance of history, rabid politicization and debased political discourse, you can see that it will be very difficult in mending this discursive staple of a functional civilization.

There is still hope that this great divide can be mended, because it has to be. The Hidden Tribes authors at one point state:

"In the era of social media and partisan news outlets, America's differences have become
dangerously tribal, fueled by a culture of outrage and taking offense. For the combatants,
the other side can no longer be tolerated, and no price is too high to defeat them.
These tensions are poisoning personal relationships, consuming our politics and
putting our democracy in peril.


Once a country has become tribalized, debates about contested issues from
immigration and trade to economic management, climate change and national security,
become shaped by larger tribal identities. Policy debate gives way to tribal conflicts.
Polarization and tribalism are self-reinforcing and will likely continue to accelerate.
The work of rebuilding our fragmented society needs to start now. It extends from
re-connecting people across the lines of division in local communities all the way to
building a renewed sense of national identity: a bigger story of us."

We need to start teaching people how to approach subjects from less of an emotional or baseless educational bias or identity, especially in the event that the subject matter could be construed to be controversial or uncomfortable.

This will be the beginning of a new era of understanding, inclusion and the defeat of regressive philosophies that threaten the core of our nation and civilization.