We recently had the opportunity to sit down with DDP himself and chat about DDP YOGA & what sets it apart, as well as DDP's own yogic path and more. Check out the interview below:
YOGANONYMOUS: You're DDP, your a WWE superstar, you’re known for your bone crushing Diamond Cutter and for being a real tough guy both in and out of the ring. What did it take for you to get on your mat for the first time and what were your first thoughts of yoga?
DDP: The only reason there is a DDP YOGA is because it was a necessity. I didn’t start wrestling until I was 35, my career did not take off until I was 40. That was 1996, the beginning of the Monday Night Wars. I came from obscurity just because I busted my ass and worked five times harder than everybody. In 1997 & 1998 I was rated the #4 wrestler in the world, and then I blew my back out. I had ruptured my L4 & L5 so badly that three different doctors said my career was over. I was almost 43 at the time.
They were telling me that by the time I went through surgery and everything else, by the time I came back I would be too old, I already was too old. I was pretty depressed. I had also signed a multi-million dollar three year deal right around that time. I was still married to Kimberly and she suggested I do yoga. At first I was like fuck that, I’m not doing yoga. I come from the Jersey Shore, and I was really just ignorant to it all.
I started to do it at night time on my own and I started to mix some rehab moves with the yoga positions. One day I got on the mat, I started doing my thing, I think I was up to some 10 second push-ups, I did two, I glanced over at my heart rate and it was at 140. I thought, “How is that possible?” It took me a while, but I started to figure out little by little that every time you engage a muscle your heart has to work faster to get the blood to the muscle.
In less than three months I was back in the ring. At 42 they said my career was over, at 43 I was the world champ. Yoga, and what became the DDP YOGA method, had a lot to do with that.
YOGANONYMOUS: And did you keep up with the yoga once you were fully rehabbed and got back into the ring? DDP: For sure, it’s what kept me in the ring. It became more and more the way I do it. Yogis who dig working out, they would love one of my Bad Ass classes. Because it’s a workout.
YOGANONYMOUS: So when you started out were you just watching videos & doing it on your own, or were you practicing with a teacher?
DDP: I started with someone who I have a lot of respect for, Bryan Kest. Five years ago I was trying to get booked at different studios to show people what I was doing and Bryan, he sort of chuckled a little bit, and he said “Dallas, you’re 5 years ahead of the curve. There’s no doubt in my mind that you’ll get booked at a lot of places but not just at studios, you’re going to get booked at all sorts of places because you are the doorway to yoga.” I said, you’re the doorway and he said to me, “No, I’m still a little too yogi, you, you’re the regular guy.”
I trained with my partner in all of this, Dr. Craig Aaron, we call him the Yoga-Doc, I gave him that name. He’s been a chiropractor for 25 years, so he knows the body as good as anybody period. He’s been a big influence on a lot of the things that I’ve done. He’s been a big brainstormer for me for the last couple of years.
I don’t let anybody call DDP YOGA "yoga" because everybody wants to put it in a box, into what they think yoga is, and you know, there’s a thousand different kinds of yoga. I mean it’s like crazy how many different kinds of yoga there are. And now that they have it for surfers and for this one and for that one.
When Kimberly came to me with it, I just put up a wall. So I understand guys who do that, because I was one of those guys. So what I've created is something that is more accessible for regular people, and I think especially guys—especially tough guys!
The difference between yoga & DDP YOGA is that in yoga you reach your arms to the heavens and the universe smiles back at you—I bring dynamic resistance to the game, I get you punching, I get you counting, there’s no inner silence here, it’s a work out. It’s yoga inspired.
YOGANONYMOUS: Gotcha, that's great. The more accessible the better. So we're picturing backstage at Wrestlemania, these huge wrestlers are all pumping iron and doing their macho thing, and you’re doing your lunges and sun salutations. You’ve got the Undertaker there, Triple H, DX—what are these guys saying when they see you while your doing your thing? Did they make fun of you? Did you try to get other wrestlers into it, or did you keep it private?
DDP: When they saw me doing it they busted my chops constantly, but they respected it because here I was in my 40’s and I could take anybody. Here’s where it all gets validated: Two years ago Chris Jericho herniated his L4—he was all done, but he wanted one more run. I sent him the video of Arthur Boorman and he asked me to send him the program ASAP. I did and he called me 5 weeks later saying he was addicted to it, wondering if everybody felt like that.
He said, “If I miss a day I feel bad. I’m doing it 5-6 days a week. I’m 85% pain free. I just left a meeting with Vince and I think I’m going back.” Now there are so many wrestlers doing DDP YOGA, Kane, Zack Ryder, The Miz. At one point during a Royal Rumble we had 14 guys doing DDP YOGA.
YOGANONYMOUS: We’ve seen the video with Scott Hall and Jake the Snake, you’re using DDP YOGA to help these guys overcome addictions. Is that a part of DDP Yoga or are you just using DDP YOGA to help your buddies?
DDP: I use, more than anything, positive energy and a positive environment. These guys have a hard time believing in themselves, even though they were some of the best wrestlers ever. They are really amazing, but they don’t think they are. Jake was so broken down and beaten up. I don’t think Scott would have ever come or wanted to be a part of this until he saw what happened to Jake—he completely transformed, and he’s not done yet.
His hands were curling in and his toes were curling up. He couldn’t open his hands or his fingers. He couldn’t go from standing to the floor and back up again. This is where Dynamic Resistance comes in. It really is pivotal for breaking up scar tissue. A pose like Pigeon—I call it Can Opener—that’s a pose you can break up scar tissue in. And it worked for Jake, he doesn’t even take medication anymore.
But the biggest thing I had him do was eat real food—no GMO’s.
YOGANONYMOUS: So does DDP YOGA offer a nutrition component as well then? Is there anything that you specifically recommend for your students?
DDP: Big time. It’s all about healing the body. from the inside out. People often think that they are eating really healthy when all the food they are eating is genetically modified. So nothing genetically modified, only real food, grains, brown rice.
Add to that a minimal joint impact workout—which is all of yoga really, but with my stuff it’s cardio as well—and unless you’re in a class with a bunch of warm bodies, you put on the DVD and you aren’t going to get your heart in the right zone for 15-20 minutes. But if you’re doing it the way I’m doing it, it completely changes that.
And I’ve made it really, really accessible.
YOGANONYMOUS: Yoga should be accessible for all people, so what you’re doing, what DDP YOGA is modeled to do, is great because it’s hitting this whole market of people that are otherwise turned off by or scared of yoga.
DDP: Absolutely. I’ve always said that I developed DDP YOGA for guys and gals that wouldn’t be caught dead doing yoga. As soon as they do it though they walk in to al different kinds of yoga classes that they would have never previously tried.
YOGANONYMOUS: What’s it been like for you—someone who’s known for kicking people’s asses and hitting people over the head with chairs, even in the scope of wrestlers, you were one of the more bad ass wrestlers in front of the camera—so what’s it like going from being this bruiser, taking on that sort of identity where people were looking to you to kick other peoples asses, and now people are coming to you for healing and support? It seems on the surface that those two things are worlds apart, so what’s it been like for you to transition from one to the other?
DDP: For starters one was a character. I can still be that guy from time to time if I stop breathing for a couple of minutes, but really I am the antithesis of that guy. I really do give a shit.
You’ll see the way I teach, I am not intimidating at all. Will I make you believe in yourself and get inspired, yes. But not by getting in your face and yelling at you. I inspire people, I don’t put them down.
When you decide to use the DDP YOGA system you get invited to Team DDP YOGA, and Team DDP YOGA is like the greatest support system ever. It’s people who come there looking for inspiration. I call people all the time. Sometimes I call them just because they bought the program, just to say thanks, and because it jacks them up.
We want people to retake ownership of their lives. We don’t want people with perfect bodies. We want people who are striving to get more fit and feel great. That’s what America needs. A lot of American’s have lost hope, and we're trying to inspire it back into people.
I have a retreat every year. The people who are coming to hang with me, we don’t have any yoga snobs. If you’re someone who wants to help themselves, I will help you. If you’re willing to put the work in, you will get the results, I am going to help you along the way. That is what DDP YOGA is all about.