If the name DDP Yoga sounds familiar, chances are it's because of its association with the recent yoga transformation video-gone-viral featuring former paratrooper Arthur Boorman. The five minute clip, which has received over ten million hits on YouTube to date, recounts how Boorman, who was severely overweight and unable to walk without assistance, turned his health around using only the DDP Yoga system. Wait, haven't we been told that yoga alone isn't enough exercise to affect weight loss? Ever curious, I had to find out more about the yoga program that helped Boorman so much.
DDP stands for Diamond Dallas Page, a former pro-wrestler turned fitness guru. Page's interest in yoga began when he injured his back in the ring and went looking for ways to rehabilitate himself. He tried yoga at his wife' suggestion and was amazed at how quickly he began to see improved flexibility and strength. He began to combine the yoga he was learning with therapeutic exercises for his back and, as his condition improved, added in slow-motion workout moves like crunches and push-ups. Page told me that he used to wear a heart-rate monitor while doing his cardio on the Stairmaster before moving to the mat for yoga. When he kept the monitor on during yoga, he noticed that when he strongly engaged his muscles, he could make his heart rate go up significantly. This was the origin of the technique that really sets DDP Yoga apart.
Not Your Mama's Yoga
The thing that makes DDP Yoga different from "your mama's yoga," or anyone else's yoga for that matter, is the use of a technique Page calls Dynamic Resistance. Resistance training refers to exercise, such as weight-lifting, where you use a heavy object, like a barbell, to create resistance for your body to work against. Dynamic Resistance is a kind of self-resistance. You preform the same actions you would when lifting weights, but without the barbells. Page often describes it as moving through clay, slowly and with a lot of control and effort. A simple pose like mountain can be transformed into a workout by engaging and using your muscles so much that you can break a sweat just standing there. Adding Dynamic Resistance allows your heart rate to climb higher than it would normally when doing yoga. DDP Yoga requires that you use a heart-rate monitor to track your own heart rate and keep it in the "fat-burning zone" for optimum results. Despite the obvious differences, there are some important aspects of your mama's yoga that do make it into the DDP system, including a focus on deep breathing and the encouragement to modify poses whenever necessary. Page repeatedly exhorts us to customize and "make it your own," a sentiment that could only make your mama proud.
Changing Your Diet
Another key factor of the DDP Yoga program, which undoubtedly played a large role in Arthur Boorman's weight-loss, is the nutrition guide. Page prescribes a three-step healthy eating plan based on whole foods and reasonable portions. Those with more weight to shed are encouraged to go dairy- and gluten-free and eat organic foods as much as possible. Recipes, sample meal plans, and a food journal provide support in changing your diet. The DDP program guide also provides a workout plan and plenty of online support via a very active web community which offers advice and encouragement.
Page's program was originally called Yoga for Regular Guys (YRG), which is a pretty apt description of his target audience, so it comes as no surprise that this program is not really designed with yogis in mind. It's for men who, like Page, thought that they would never try yoga since it is perceived as lacking a certain macho je ne sais quois. Page, who is the first to say that this is not "traditional yoga," goes out of his way to insert man-cred. He renames poses (warrior I becomes road warrior, urdhva hastasana becomes touchdown, child's pose becomes safety zone, etc.) and inserts his Dynamic Resistance curls and punches, plus moves like the "hulk it out." Page doesn't concern himself with being politically correct, but does hope that his injection of humor and overt masculinity will help get "regular guys" to seek out yoga's benefits and maybe even make their way into a more traditional class. While Page is certainly not the first to teach yoga as a purely physical pursuit, he is reaching out to a population that has previously found no place for themselves in the yoga community.
But Is it Yoga?The question does arise, as with other yoga hybrids, at what point does this become so separate from yoga that it's pointless to call it that. I try not to get too caught up in what is or isn't yoga. The more I learn about the history of modern asana practice, the sillier it seems for any particular method to claim authenticity over another. It's clear that DDP's addition to the yoga continuum is helping a lot of real people. More power to them.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.