DDP Yoga exposes my agility problems

Third in a series of columns by Kingston Whig-Standard columnist Jan Murphy, who is chronicling his battle with weight loss and using DDP Yoga.

Originally published in The Kingston Whig-Standard on March 27, 2013, all rights reserved.

Comp 1 (0;13;02;29)
Strong. Determined. Even deceptively fast. Those are descriptions that could possibly be used to describe me, depending on what you may have witnessed me doing.

Flexible, graceful, nimble … all NOT words used to describe me. Ever.

Hey, I’m just being honest.

So you can imagine the challenges I faced the first time I turned on the TV, popped in the DVD and did some DDP Yoga.

Need me to help you move that huge oak dresser from the spare room in your basement? No problem. Looking for a somewhat fleet-footed first baseman (even with bum knees) for that slo-pitch team? Maybe I’m your guy.

But if you’re for someone to strike a pose and hold it so a group of artists can paint my likeness, that’s not happening.

My first attempt at DDP Yoga can be summed up in a few words, none of them even even in the same family as the aforementioned ones. In fact, the three words that best describe that first experience might be “awkward,” “stiff” and “immobile.”

I’m a realist, so I knew before I even plunked the first disc into the DVD player that I was heading into uncharted territory. But I’ve also been around the proverbial block when it comes to various forms of training, so I also knew that, like anything, with practice would come perfection.

My first foray into DDP Yoga went something like this: I borrowed my wife’s yoga mat, since, well, I don’t have one. Dressed in my usual gym attire – shorts and a T-shirt – I started at the very beginning of Disc 1, with the very simple “breathing” segment. (There are multiple discs, each offering various programs of increasing difficulty.)

In the blink of an eye, I was lying on my back, my hands on my belly, practising a breathing technique that I fully expect will become a staple in my life. Diamond Dallas Page himself carried me through the breathing exercise. Simply, at first, I was taking a deep breath in, and slowly and deeply exhaling, pushing slightly on my belly to get it all out.

After a couple of those, DDP asked me to control the breathing, taking it in for three seconds, and out for three. We worked toward five seconds.

I won’t lie, it was a struggle to inhale for three seconds, let alone five. You can imagine my surprise when he worked it to 10 seconds. My lungs were filled at the seven-second mark. It was much easier to exhale for a 10-count.

My lungs nearly collapsed (okay, not really) when DDP revealed during the exercise that he can control his breathing so meticulously that he can inhale for 60 straight seconds, and exhale for another 60. (FYI, as I write this, I am now able to surpass the 10-second mark, so I guess anything is possible).

The breathing segment is but a few minutes in length. From there, I graduated to DDP’s trademark Diamond Dozen. The beauty here is that there are actually 13 exercises. DDP admits math wasn’t his strong suit.

The Diamond Dozen form the basis of all of the workouts during DDP Yoga. They need to be learned and practised. Each of the Diamond Dozen positions is explained, then demonstrated (even modified for beginners) and then done again, this time with you joining in.

Without going into detail about each of the positions, you can gather from some of the names what they involve: Downdog, Slow Burn Pushups, Cat Stretch, Punches, to name a few.

The Coles Notes version – the basis for everything DDP teaches with his program – is it’s all about dynamic resistance. You are using your own strength to create the resistance you would get using weights.

The first move in the Diamond Dozen is called Ignition into Touchdown. Quite simply, you’re planting your feet firmly on the mat, gripping the mat with your toes, straightening your back, flexing your glutes and your adductors, and then reaching out, flexing your arms right out to your fingers. You then reach for the sky, maintaining the flexing. From there, you bring your arms down, slowly, to your side, maintaining that resistance.

It’s difficult to describe what this feels like. But if you’re doing it properly, every muscle in your body is flexed, and you’re basically fighting yourself to perform the move.

I found the pace of the Diamond Dozen segment was nice. But still, my preconceived notion that I would finish DDP Yoga having barely broken a sweat was obliterated about four moves into during the Diamond Dozen.

After completing the, ahem, dozen, I slipped over to the fridge for some water. Bolstered by having completed the first two segments, I decided to go for gold and graduate myself to the first true workout, which is titled Energy.

It’s a roughly 20-minute workout that moves at a much quicker pace than the Diamond Dozen. In fact, in hindsight, I should have practised the Diamond Dozen a few more times, because I did feel a little overwhelmed following along.

Undeterred, I did my best to keep pace. It was during this workout, which I would describe as moderately intense for a beginner like myself, that I discovered I have little flexibility, extremely tight hip flexors and that slow burn pushups are aptly named.

DDP won the battle, in that I twice had to stop to catch my breath and drink water, but I like to think I won the war as I finished the segment, drenched in sweat as though I’d finished an eight-kilometre run.

Satisfied, I called it a day, and followed my workout with the green drink I mentioned in last week’s column.

Truth be told, I felt pretty proud that day. I had, for the first time in my life, done yoga. And a mere few hours later, I had the soreness to prove it. My hips, clearly underused in my day-to-day living, were as tight as guitar strings. I also had tight glutes, and some tightness in my back, all attributable to DDP Yoga holds.

As I’ve learned over the years while working out, no pain, no gain. Also notable was how exhausted I was by late afternoon, a tribute to the intensity of the workout.

I’ve graduated from the Diamond Dozen and Energy programs to the Fat Burner workout, which is slightly longer and a little more intense, but is most notable for its increase in slow-burn pushups.

Feel the burn. I know I am.

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