Hitting the (yoga) mat for a serious workout

ddp yoga group

A not-so-typical yoga group for a not-so-typical kind of yoga. The author is in front. Pictured in back, from left to right, are: Tom Coleman, Rylan Yee, Zach Manzano, and Seth Ragragola-Lenchanko

Two months ago, I never would have imagined that I’d be spending an early Saturday morning doing yoga with a bunch of guys.

But here I am. Sweat-drenched and tired on a yoga mat.

How did I get here? It all started with a birthday present.

Usually when I celebrate my birthday with bandmates, gifts are in the form of libations from a favorite watering hole. This year was different. I received a large envelope and was told all my bandmates chipped in to buy the present. I reached in and pulled out a booklet accompanied by a few DVDs. In large print, it read, “DDP Yoga – It Ain’t Your Mama’s Yoga.”

I thought to myself, “Great, they all think I’m fat.”

Looking out for one another

They quickly reassured me that I look fine, but they thought I would it enjoy it. My bandmates had tried the yoga routine and were hooked.

I belong to one of the older bands in Honolulu’s punk rock scene. And as we all approach the big 40, we’ve been keeping an eye out for each other.

Your next question is probably, why yoga? DDP Yoga is led by none other than wrestling great Diamond Dallas Page (DDP), who’s gotten rid of the curly blonde mullet. All the members of our band grew up watching professional wrestling in the 80s and 90s, so it seemed a perfect fit.

Still, I was curious to see if DDP could bring his infectious energy to a workout program. Back at home, I popped in disc one. The workout lasted 22 minutes — and it was intense.

My wife watched and laughed at me through the whole thing. She had previously practiced yoga and she said this isn’t like any yoga she’s seen before. To that, I had the perfect response. “Well,” I said, holding up the DDP booklet, “This ain’t your mama’s yoga.”

Before starting DDP, I had never done yoga before. My wife says yoga sessions are typically calming and soothing. Also, most yoga sessions don’t have wrestlers yelling, “If you’re shaking, cool!” or “Hulk it up!”

ddp yoga feature

What is DDP Yoga?

DDP Yoga is actually a form of power yoga, an Americanized version of Ashtanga-style yoga. But you won’t hear any “Namastes” in this workout. The positions have all been renamed to pay homage to DDP’s wrestling background.

As a wrestling fan, I was eager to drop into “pinfall,” step up into “road warrior,” and stretch back for a “diamond cutter.” Before I knew it, there was a puddle of sweat on my yoga mat and I had an improved standing posture.

I began publicly documenting details of my workouts on social media and every post would have a thread of comments. Some people asked me what on earth I was doing, others cheered me on. I was even recognized from Facebook one day while crossing the street. A guy crossing in the opposite direction stopped me and said, “Hey Fernando, DDP yoga! How do you like those exploding push-ups?”

A group workout

I answered most online queries by directing friends to the official DDP Yoga website to purchase their own DVDs. But after a few weeks went by, the “does it work” questions hadn’t stopped. So I decided I would give my friends the opportunity to try it for themselves. I created a Facebook event, inviting all my friends who wanted to try DDP Yoga to join me in a park for a live workout. My bandmates were eager to jump on board since we’d been joking about getting together for a group session.

Joining us that morning were two musicians, Seth Ragragola-Lenchanko from the band Above Reproach and Zach Manzano from the band Anygivenchance. Both are gearing up for a mainland tour and were possibly looking at DDP Yoga as their workout to get them in rock star shape.

Since it would have been tough to have a large screen and a DVD player in a park, we set up a portable speaker system and played mp3 versions of some of the workouts. To give our newbies a visual on the correct form of the positions, my guitarist Tom Coleman stepped up to the plate and faced the group for the routines.

We started with the Diamond Dozen, an instructional walk-through of all the positions and their modified forms, used in the beginner level workouts. We then went into the first workout: Energy. In the middle of the workout, DDP tells us to hold a bent-legged barback while focusing on the sweat dripping from our noses. Seth said out loud, “How did he know?” We all give a manly chuckle as we moved on to the next position.

The group takes a break between sessions. DDP Yoga is considered power yoga, so prepare to sweat.

The group takes a break between sessions. DDP Yoga is considered power yoga, so prepare to sweat.

‘Not your typical workout’

After the workout, the group hung out and chatted for a bit. My bandmates and I were curious to see what Seth and Zach thought of DDP Yoga.

Zach had previously tried “regular” yoga, Zumba, and P90x. He wasn’t sure what to expect with DDP Yoga. But he ended up liking it. “After you get the flow of everything and realize what you gotta do, this is not your typical workout,” he said.

He particularly liked using dynamic resistance. DDP reminds participants throughout the workout to move slowly, as if you’re moving through clay.

Seth had previously jumped onto elliptical machines to stay in shape, and had done the popular 90s workout Tae Bo. After stepping off his yoga mat (beach towel) he said, “It was a real good way to push away the negativity as [DDP] talks about.” He said he had to use some of the modifications for beginners, but still felt the burn.

At that point, Zach and Seth started talking about where to get a deal on yoga mats. Sounds like they’re converts.

As for the DDP Yoga veterans in that morning’s group, I asked what they thought of doing the workout in a group compared to doing it in private.

Tom said he enjoyed the opportunity to motivate each other mid-workout. My other bandmate, Rylan Yee, found it relaxing to look at the clouds while on his back for a few positions, such as “cannon ball” or “figure four leg stretch.”

As for me, I’ve been doing DDP Yoga for nearly two months and I love it. I use the discs at home, but use mp3s when I do the routine at work. I know the routine can look a little weird to passersby so I made a sign to hang in my office: “DDP Yoga in progress. Beware of diamond cutters.”

My DDP Yoga friends and I don’t have time for a weekly gathering, but after our park meet-up we’re committed to more group outdoor workouts. I’ve always thought of my bandmates as family so it’s exciting when we can share something, besides our face-melting musical hits.

fernando1

 

Fernando Pacheco is a blogger for being 808, a content specialist at HMSA  and a media jack-of-all trades. He’s dedicated to seeking a healthier lifestyle for himself and his family. Join him on his journey on our blog and on social media! Chat with him directly on Twitter.

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