As part of the continuing series on Yogi(s) of interest, Diamond Dallas Page took time out of his day to speak with the Charleston Yoga Examiner for this exclusive interview. The dialogue was frank, open, honest, and even zen-like.
This is part one of a two-part interview with Page:
Born Page Joseph Falkinburg on the Jersey Shore he had an upbringing that he describes as “At the age of 3, my mother was 19 and married three times, we bounced around a lot – like a pinball”.
He makes note of the fact that he battled with Attention Deficit Disorder and Dyslexia growing up. He went on to explain that he didn’t read well; at the age of 30 he was reading at a 3rd grade level. A mere two years before he entered the world of professional wrestling he decided to make a change. He would go onto read his first book at the age of 31. He said it took him a year to do it, but he set a goal and accomplished it: a pattern that repeats throughout the narrative of his life.
Moreover, since that time he has penned two books: “Positively Page” and “Yoga For Regular Guys”.
When asked, he readily tells it: “The most important lesson I learned over the years is work ethic equals results; do your best at everything.”
Page became involved in the rough and tumble world of professional wrestling at the age of 32 which can best be described as a ‘late start’. Throughout his years of professional wrestling he would be mentored by stars such as “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes (Virgil Runnels), Jody Hamilton AKA “The Assassin”, and the man he credits with teaching him the psychology of wrestling: Jake “The Snake” Roberts (Aurelian Smith).
When asked about his relationship to younger stars of that time he makes no bones about it: “I was laughed at…no one takes you seriously and that made me work harder. Eventually people started taking note and after awhile it was like the guys that thought I wasn’t sh*t started taking note. That brought my game to a whole new level.”
He related the story of a conversation he had with Dusty Rhodes late in 1994. Full of self-doubt, he told “The Dream” that they (management) would never put the world title on him. Dusty’s response? “What the f**k are you doing it for? If you don’t believe in yourself then you need to get the f**k out of the business!” Right then and there he set the goal of becoming World Championship Wrestling’s World Heavyweight Champion…in five years.
He sat down and set a plan in motion; first, he put his goal in writing.
Page’s wrestling career didn’t ‘take off’ until 1996. By that time he was 40 years of age and in the eyes of most: ‘long in the tooth’. As fate would have it, he had a reversal of fortunes: enter the “Monday Night Wars”.
Then it happened: the years of physical abuse on his body began to take their toll in earnest. He managed to work through knee injuries, neck in juries, and a few surgeries in between. However, in 1997 Page blew out his L4 and L5. This was because, in his words, and experts agree: “You can’t fake gravity.”
Doctor’s told him that his career was over. He was willing to do “anything” to get back into the ring. Devastated and recuperating at home in much pain his then wife, Kimberly, suggested that he try Yoga. After some time and prodding, Page relented. What happened as a result of that first day on the mat is nothing less than astounding.
Four years, four months, and 14 days later on April 11, 1999 Page achieved his goal. Page was 43 years old and awarded the companies World Heavyweight Championship: something that he would go on to do two more times during his career.
What follows is a transcript of the highlights from the telephone interview conducted with Page.
There's a good chance that after trying it (DDPYoga) for a year, that guy will walk into a Yoga studio! ~ Bryan Kest to Page
William Hunnell: Professional wrestling fans are familiar with your story. So, what lead you to practice Yoga?
Diamond Dallas Page: I’ve learned to be grateful for negative things. My ex-wife, Kimberly, was doing Yoga down-stairs and I saw that she was getting an intense workout. She suggested I try Yoga….I’m the guy who wouldn’t be caught dead doing Yoga.
WH: Who were your early influences in the practice of Yoga?
DDP: I’d have to say Bryan Kest. I had a VHS…can’t remember the name of it…and yes…VHS: not DVD! I liked him and his style. We eventually became buddies.
In fact, we talked about YRG (now DDPYoga) and he said to me, “Page, you’re the doorway to Yoga”. I’m like, “You are!” I told him, like I told other people: “it ain’t Yoga: it’s YRG!” and he says, “….there’s a good chance that after trying it (YRG) for a year, that guy will walk into a Yoga studio!” The “doorway” comment made sense: that’s exactly what I figured people would do.
WH: Ahhhh…YRG….Yoga for Regular Guys…that’s something. Your own practice kinda morphed into YRG?
DDP: Yeah, I created YRG to heal my body. I’m a guy who wouldn’t get caught dead doing Yoga. I couldn’t believe how you’re lengthening and strengthening and engaging muscles. I couldn’t believe how it made my body feel. There’s a lady named Janet who teaches in LA. I used to go to her restorative classes once a week: it was amazing.
More to come: Page talks about the beginnings of YRG