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JULY814,2005

DownwardDog!Bang!
FormerprowrestlerDiamondDallasPagehasananswerforregularguys:yoga byNICHOLASROSEN
TheportraitofAmericaafterthe2004electionisnowalltoofamiliar:We areahousedivided.Ournationcanbeorganizedintoneatlittledichotomies: Democratsvs.Republicans,agnosticsvs.thefaithful,treehuggersvs. offroaders.Andwecouldreasonablyaddanotheronetotheredstateblue statepartition:Thosewhoenjoyprofessionalwrestlingvs.thosewhodo yoga. SomepeoplelovetopassthetimebetweenNASCARrallieswatchinglarge, bombasticmenincostumeswithnamesliketheUndertakerandthe BashamBrothersengageinchoreographedcombatinvolvingManichaean themesandfoldingmetalchairs. Otherpeopleshunperfectlygoodhamburgers,chantincantationsina languagetheydontunderstand,andforcetheirbodiesintoimprobable contortionsinanefforttoupgradetheirkarmicportfolios. Bothofthesegroupsarededicatedtoaritualofpain,sweatandtights. Asidefromthat,theyareonoppositeendsofthemat. DiamondDallasPagewantstochangeallthat.Page,alsoknownasDDP,isathreetimeworldchamppro wrestlerfamedforhisbevyofbikinicladDiamondDollsandhisdevastatingdiamondcutteramovethat entailsgrabbingonesopponentbytheheadandslamminghimtothefloorlikeanunrulyheifer.Whenthe 6foot5,235poundDDPstepsintotothering,hismultitudinousfansorganizedundertheinformalUnionof DiamondCutters(UDC)arepromptedtojumpfromtheirseats,throwtheirfingerstogetherintheshapeofa diamond,andhollerthewrestlersnononsensecatchphrase:Bang! SincePageretiredfromWorldWrestlingEntertainmentin2002,hisprofessionalreinventionhasinvolveda seriesofmotivationalspeakingengagements,afewrolesinBgrademovies,andtheinevitablestinton HollywoodSquares.Andnow,intheultimatedefianceofourculturalstereotypes,thewrestlinglegendhasrecast himselfastheyogagurufortheAmericanEveryman,withanewconcept,YRGYogaforRegularGuys. Thisisyogaforthedudewhowouldntbecaughtdeaddoingyoga,asaysPage,asheprepsforouryoga sessionwithanOlympiansizebreakfastof10eggs,aheapingbowlofoatmealandatallglassofgreenishliquid. Theguysouttheremaythink,Its,like,toogirly,butasPageexplainsit,YogaforRegularGuysisaserious fuckingworkouthecreatedbyadoptingtraditionalyogaposturessunsalutation,downwarddog,etc.and mergingthemwiththefitnesstechniquesoftheWesternworld,likeisometricsandcalisthenics.Pagehasalready developedaYogaforRegularGuysbookforreleaseinNovember2005,andiscurrentlyplanningavideoand promotionalinfomercial.Andofcourse,yougottahavelotsofhotchicksinGstringsallovertheplace,headds. ItsgonnabelikeyogameetsTheManShow. Afewweeksearlier,IstumbleduponDDPwhiledoingresearchforanupcomingdocumentaryonyogainthe West,titledProjectY.Thepremisetakessomejerkwhohasneverdoneyogabefore(me)andplungeshimin, headfirst.IwrotetoDDPsmanagertofindoutmoreabouttheloudmouthedgladiatorspassionforthisancient Indianritual.HesentmeaphotoofDDPshowingoffhisyogamovesonthesetofRobZombiesupcomingfilm TheDevilsRejects,inwhichthewrestlerplaystheroleofagnarly,dustcoveredbountyhunternamedBillyRay Snapper.Thephoto(above)showshimintheadvancedyogapostureutthitahastapadangusthasana,which entailsstandingononelegwhilegrabbingtheotherfootandstretchingituptowardyourheadinadramatic

(Photocourtesyof DiamondDallasPage)

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forwardkick. Forweeks,Imyselfhadbeenworkingonthisdifficultpose(whichtheancientscreditwithlooseningthehips, strengtheningthetesticlesandreducingconstipation),butcouldntevencomeclosetopullingitoff.DDPs executionwasperfectandseeminglyeffortless,despitehiscostumeoftightjeansandweldersboots.Ifollowed upwithaphonecalltoDDPhimself,andhecheerfullyinvitedmetocomehaveatasteofYogaforRegularGuys. Bang!thunderedDDP.Imgonnaraiseyourfuckingheartratefastasfuck!Headdedthathewouldcallinhis YogaBabestocomejoininthefun. OverbreakfastathisapartmentcomplexinPlayaVista(whichPagewassharingwithfellowbachelorand wrestlinglegendStoneColdSteveAustin),wetalkwrestling.Prowrestlingisntfake,itsfixed,saysDDP. Theyarereallyhittingeachother.Towardtheendofhiscareer,theyearsofbodyslams,foldingchairstothe head,andotherstagemanagedbutnolessrealformsofviolencehaddoneaseriousnumberonPagesbody, particularlyhisL4andL5spinalregion.At42yearsold,theytoldmemywrestlingcareerwasover,saysPage, whoisnow49andstillwrestlingpayperviewmatches. Headmitsthatwhenhiswife,Kimatanned,statuesquePlayboymodelandformerDiamondDollfirsttried togethimintoyoga,hebalked.Isaid,Yoga?Yougottabefuckinkiddingme,admitsPage.Butashisback painbecamelessandlessbearable,hefinallylethimselfbedraggedtoayogaclassledbyBrianKest,Santa MonicasmasterofpoweryogaahighintensitymodificationofthetraditionalformthatbotheasedPages painandkickedhisbutt.Nowafullconvert,Pagecreditsyogawithprolonginghiscareerandrescuinghisbody. Flexibilityisyouth,dude. ImusetoDDPthatyogapracticeandprofessionalwrestlingareactuallybornofsimilarexistentialassumptions afterall,seriousyogadevoteeswouldsuggestthat,justasprofessionalwrestlingisfake,sotheentiremanifest worldissimplyanillusionthatoverlaysthedeeperrealityofthehigherSelf.Stirringtheeggswithonehand,DDP wavestheotherdismissively.Idontgoinforallthatspiritualcrap,hesays.Yogaclassesusuallybeginwith namaste[acommonSanskritgreeting].Myyogaisnotaboutnamaste.ItsmorelikeT&A!

Soonitistimefortheyogatobegin.Wedragourmatsoutintoanadjacentcourtyard,whereIamoutfittedwith aheartmonitorandplacedbehindaspromisedapairofskimpilycladYogaBabes.Asthepracticebegins,I realizethisisnotyourusualyogaroutine.Dispensingwiththeusualommm,wegorightintoslowmotion isometricpushups.BeforeIknowit,myatriaarethumpingataround160beatsperminute,andImsettinganew recordforhumanperspiration.Theposturesthatfollowareabitmorefamiliartotheregularyogapractitioner warriorone,catpose,etc.butwithlittleattentionpaidtobreathoralignment,andlotsofDiamondDallasPage flair. Okay,comeup,nowcallatouchdown!Wethrowourarmsuplikefootballreferees.Nowfallforward, straightenyourback,bendyourkneesandgoup,withyourhandsintotheformoftheDiamondCutter!weall makediamondswithourthumbsandforefingers,lookinglikecardcarryingmembersoftheUDC. YogatraditionalistswilllikelydismissYogaforRegularGuysasanunwelcomeaberrationfromwhatmanyview asasacred,millenniaoldtradition.Butinfact,thevarietyofyogathatwenowpracticeintheWestbroadly knownashathayogaprobablybearslittleresemblancetoitsoriginalformorintention.Hathayogaspostures andbreathingtechniquesareonlyasmallpartofadiversetradition,itsoriginsshroudedinhistory,comprising rigorousmentalandphysicalpracticesundertakenbyHinduasceticsintheirefforttofindliberationfromthe chainsofmortalityandearthlysuffering.Inrecentyears,fitnessfriendlyaspectsofhathayogahavebeen adoptedbytheWestandmorphedintothelikesofFatBlastingYogavideosandcelebrityendorsements.Withor withoutDiamondDallasPage,theartofyogaiswellonitswaytofullblownpopculturalexploitation.Weare justtakingittothenextlevel,saysPage. Laterinthesession,whenweareallindownwarddog,ourderriresreachingforthesky,DDPgiggles,gestures totheYogaBabesinfrontofme,andasks,Howstheview,Nick?Whoa,Ithink.DiamondDallasPageis clearlychartingnewterritoryhere.Afterall,yogaclassesarefilledwithtaboos.Younevergigglewhensomeone farts,andyounevereventhinkaboutsex,nomatterhowtighttheoutfitorsuggestivethepose. Clearly,Pageismarketingtoawholedifferentaudience.Thenotionoftheregularguyisworthitsweightingold

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inAmericabeercompaniesandpoliticalcampaignsalikehavestakedtheirsuccessonmarketingtothis lowestcommondenominatordemographic.ItremainstobeseenwhetherPagecantapthisculturalgoldmine withagimmickthatissodecidedlyAgeofAquarius.Butthefactthatyogaisseenbysomeastoogirlymayin factbeahiddenstrength:Withmostyogaclassesofferingverypromisinggirlboyratios,theprospectofbeing surroundedbysweatychicksissuretogainsometractionwiththeladmagandMondayNightFootballset. Anyway,IendupreallyenjoyingmyyogasessionwithDiamondDallasPage,partlybecause,despitemy liberalartseducationandpostfeministsensibilities,Iamjustaregularguy,moreT&Athannamaste.AndIcant helpthinkingthatmaybeheisontosomething.Forallitspopularityamongurbanprofessionalsandleftleaning sophisticates,yogahasyettopenetratethesupersizedheartofMiddleAmerica.Itmayjusttakesomeonewith theculturalcredofDiamondDallasPagetodeliverahardworkoutwithmanyofthebenefitsofyogaflexibility, balanceandfocusbutwithoutanyspiritualhoohaorunpronounceableSanskritnames,andpushyoga beyondthecoastalclustersofliberalelitestothelandofmonstertrucksandWonderBread. Wearegonnagetthisshitintheschools,getthefootballteamsdoingit,saysPage.BecauseIamDDP,andI amtheguytheyaregoingtolistento.Bang!

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