Everything I Need to Know about Yoga I Learned from Pro-wrestling. ~ Lori Flynn

Via elephant journal
on Sep 13, 2011
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Photo: Tsutomu Takasu

Have A Gimmick

In the wrestling world, a good gimmick will get you seen; it will get you places and put butts in the seats. The way you dress, move, speak, who you align yourself with – it all comes together to create an idea that surrounds you as a character.

In the yoga world, teachers are multiplying exponentially it seems – which is a good  thing for the world, allowing people more access to teachers that resonate with their personal goals. Each yoga teacher brings with them their own lifetime of experiences, wisdom and knowledge. When we can incorporate that into our teachings and amplify our existing identities, we reach a wider audience, stand out and stand in our unique offerings.


Music is very important in the wrestling world. When you’re standing behind the curtain and your music hits, the crowd immediately knows who you are. Your music puts the crowd in the mood for what you’re about to dazzle them with. Sometimes you’re in the middle of an intense match with an opponent and – BAM – someone else’s music hits. The crowd goes wild with anticipation, eagerly awaiting the wrestler to run to the ring and interfere, creating more reason to hoot and holler.

Photo: Daku Resort Savusavu Fiji

Certainly far less dramatic in the yoga world, our music helps set the tone for our offerings. It soothes during centering; it motivates during a burst of vinyasa; it takes us on a trip during savasana. On the other hand, maybe we don’t use music. Or, maybe we use an instrument or device. Whatever the case may be, the music we use in our classes is a reflection on us and can certainly add or detract from the teachings. We must be wise when choosing music for our classes or personal practices.


Very Useful. Pesky opponent just won’t fall down when you kick or punch him or her? Grab that conveniently placed chair and swing it! While that particular approach is not applicable in yoga, a chair does indeed have its uses for modifying poses.

Mats Matter

There is nothing worse than falling to the mat in a poorly made wrestling ring. Likewise, there is nothing worse than sliding your way into a face-plant during downward dog. ‘Nuf said.

What Looks like A Struggle Is Actually A Dance in Progress

Wrestling is fake. That’s what we hear over and over. To clarify, the outcome of a match may be pre-determined, but the actions that take place are real – the lifting, the throwing, the flying, the punching, the kicking, etc. A professional wrestler spends years in training with a reputable school before getting booked for a reputable promotion. During that training, we learn to work together and protect one another, while creating the illusion of struggle.

Photo: familymwr

And so, it is with our yoga students, our yoga practice and our paths as teachers. We struggle to quiet our minds, touch our toes and surrender to non-attachment. When we teach, we pick up on these little battles with each student. As students, we often pick up on the struggles of those around us. Observe that what is really happening is a process – the higher self and the current self coming together to dance with the goal of creating a well-rounded, beneficial experience.

Flashy Is Cool, But Roots Rule

The first time I jumped off the top rope onto my opponent, sending him to the ground from my spinning aerial assault, I was hooked. I spent months perfecting my signature moves until I saw a technical match between two fellow wrestlers that sparked something inside of me. From that day forward, I immersed myself in the history of wrestling, the evolution of pro-wrestling and the art of technical wrestling. It was infinitely more satisfying on a much deeper level. I took my very first yoga class because Madonna was doing it. At the end of class, our teacher introduced us to side crow.  As I balanced on my arms, I imagined that I was floating and thought about how cool I would look when I showed my friends at a party.

Photo: Keith Ramsey

Years later, I had my first moment of clarity during meditation. That was the beginning of my true yogic journey; the tip of the iceberg was revealed. From that moment on, I was immersed in all things historical, philosophical and peripheral to the asana practice. I would soon after attempt my once perfected (ha!) side crow and be pleased to have completely lost it.

Photo: Matthew Hurst

Masks Are Fun, But Only for A Little While

You’d be hard-pressed to find a wrestling fan that doesn’t find some entertainment value in the idea of the mask-wearing wrestler. The entire notion of the mask as concealment is ridiculous because the wrestler’s identity is usually identifiable with or without the mask. Yet, we play along.

And here we are all in the yoga world, often wearing our masks and hauling them along into class with us. Meanwhile, our true self shines behind the façade, detectable usually to everyone but ourselves. Removing that mask sure helps us see with a lot more clarity. It helps us breathe more easily too.


 Headshot.LFLori Flynn lives in Lyons, CO where she teaches yoga, plays music and draws parallels between the components of her wild path. A former pro-wrestler who went on to spend time in a Vedic monastery, she still finds delight in attending the occasional pro-wrestling show, often lecturing the rowdy crowd on the superiority of the yogic lifestyle…before getting pounced on and dragged out of the ring. Visit her online at www.facebook.com/FullCircleYogaOnline.





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4 Responses to “Everything I Need to Know about Yoga I Learned from Pro-wrestling. ~ Lori Flynn”

  1. hkoren says:

    This article fails to identify the distinction between Wrestling and Pro-Wrestling. Pro-wrestling is what this article is about.

    Actual real wrestling, known as freestyle, folkstyle, or greco-roman, does not have a predefined outcome, it is a sport which is included as part of the Olympics, and it is one of the most powerful martial arts there is. The picture of the two women wrestlers on the right hand side are not Pro-wrestlers, they are Olympic wrestlers (probably USA in blue vs. China in red).

    Also, the article asserts that the kicks and punches of pro-wrestling are real. This is not true, these kicks are designed to look real but to not inflict damage. They are as fake as the worked outcome of the matches. If you want to see real kicks and punches thrown with bad intention… check out MMA, Kickboxing, or Boxing… not pro-wrestling.

    Any real wrestler would consider your failure to differentiate between their sport and pro-wrestling as a great insult.

  2. Lori says:

    Thank you for shining a light on those very important points.

    There certainly are big differences between professional wrestling (sports entertainment) and "actual real wrestling" (like the use of gimmicks and music). I hoped to convey that the article focused on the sports entertainment oriented pro-wrestling by establishing that in the title; perhaps the pictures – later chosen by editors of ej – may throw the reader off. As for the punches and kicks being real, I stand my ground as a former pro-wrestler – there are many people who choose to work a "stiff" style and there is contact during a match. While it may not be "designed to inflict damage", marks are often left. Moreso, as a female wrestler, there was more than one promoter who would book me (and other female wrestlers) against their overly egotistical male wrestlers, have them lose to us to "teach them a lesson" or humble them…which always resulted in the male wrestler being furious, then working stiff. Finally, while there are many reputable schools for pro-wrestling, there are just as many sketchy schools across the US churning out workers whose lack of training results in injury. One of the most common questions I'm asked is about the use of tables and chairs – "are they real?" "are they doctored to break easily?" – in my experience, those tables and chairs are real.

    I certainly did not mean to insult any "real" wrestler – though I know many a professional wrestler that would consider their work "real". Such is life.

    Thank you for taking the time to read the article and provide a well thought out response.

  3. Yogini5 says:

    You left out the swagger, the verbal bluster and the challenge of when the wrestler enters into the ring in an exhibition game … it's kind of like the SWAGGER (even if on his hands in a handstand, for effect) of the All-Levels yoga teacher, the VERBAL BLUSTER "…and you COULD be doing THIS. Come on, try …" and "I experienced samadhi this morning … the trees … the sky …" , and the CHALLENGE "… it will get MUCH harder than this … if you don't do THIS, and do THAT instead, you will feel MORE discomfort …"

    Welcome to the wrestling match that is yoga class … lol

  4. Eddie Ellner says:

    Ha …. as a former pro wrestling journalist (an oxymoron if there ever was one) turned yoga teacher I see how valuable my exposure to the ring, where everyone is presenting and defending a fake identity, prepared me well for the studio where students are basically doing the same, but with slightly less theatrical make-up.