Thomas Galvin
Purveyor of Fine Pulp Fiction

I root for the bad guy.

I’ve been doing DDP Yoga for a month now, along with Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1, and working at a standing desk. I’ve been eating a mostly ketogenic diet, with Bulletproof Coffee for breakfast, Muscle Milk and a Quest bar for lunch, and a half dozen eggs for dinner. I have one cheat day a week, which still starts with Bulletproof Coffee, but from lunch on I eat whatever I’m in the mood for.

So far, I’ve dropped thirteen pounds, and my belt is two notches tighter than when I started. My squat is up to over three hundred pounds, my deadlift is up over four hundred, I can press one eighty five, and I can bench two eighty. More importantly than my raw numbers, though, I don’t hurt the way I used to.

The combination of yoga and powerlifting is pretty much magical, as far as I’m concerned. My strength is up, my pain is down, and I’m losing weight at a pretty good pace, despite a few, ahem, indulgences here and there. I’m very happy with how this program is progressing.

I’ve been doing DDP Yoga for about three weeks now, and so far, I’m entralled.

I have a lot of fitness goals right now, and Yoga plays into most of them. The main reason I’ve incorporated it, though, is to rehab previous injuries, prevent new injuries, and gain back some flexibility. Three weeks in, I’m very happy with how this is working.

The thing I really wanted to touch on, though, is how well thought out the progressions are. In any activity, you’re going to go from beginner, to novice, to expert. That’s as true for lifting weights as it is for writing software. And the fastest way to make someone give up? Screw up that progression.

If you take someone who’s never even touched a weight before, and ask them to do a squat snatch, they’re going to hurt themselves, and they’re going to decide that this weightlifting shit is too hard. If you take someone who’s never even written a web page, and ask them to create a distributed data entry system, they’re going to fail, and they’re probably going to forget this whole coding thing altogether.

The style of Yoga DDP is based on, Ashtanga, is focused on the flow between positions, but DDP starts you off very simply, with what he calls the Diamond Dozen, thirteen basic movements or poses that form the backbone of the system. There’s no flow to worry about here, no transition to screw up. It’s just “here, stand like this, and squeeze your muscles.” Very easy to accomplish, and a very early “win;” right off the bat, you feel like you’re doing something right. That kind of reinforcement is important to keeping someone going.

The next workout is called Energy, and it adds some simple transitions between the poses you learned in the first workout. This is also where you really start to learn the brilliance of DDP Yoga’s regressions and progressions. DDP does the “main” poses, but he always has at least one person doing a regression, or modified version, that’s slightly easier, and there’s usually someone doing a progression, or more advanced version, as well.

That means one workout really becomes three; the modified version you might try the first few times, the main version, and the advanced version that you eventually work your way up to. It also means that people who are struggling can look up at the screen and see someone struggling, too. And this isn’t a case of DDP holding himself up as the ideal while someone else does the “easy” workout, either; sometimes he’ll take a knee or stop for a water break. There’s no condescension on display.

The next workout is called Fat Burner, and it builds on the foundation laid in Energy, and adds in some more difficult positions and transitions. I’ve been doing two-a-days for three weeks now, usually a mix of Energy and Fat Burner, and I’ve gotten pretty good at most of their positions.

Tonight, I did Diamond Cutter for the first time … and it kicked my ass. It’s twice as long as any (Yoga) workout I’ve done before, and it finally includes positions that I either can’t hold, or just plain can’t get into at all.

But the way these were introduced is also very smart. DDP will give you a position to try. And then, if you’ve got that, here’s something you can do to make it a bit harder. And if you’ve got that, here’s how to take it to the next level. There’s never a sense that you should be doing something, and that you’re failing if you can’t. But he’s always introducing things for you to try as you get stronger and more flexible.

That, I think, is the best part about this system; you’re rewarded for what you can do now, and you’re given something to reach for tomorrow.