Have you ever tried explaining how incredible yoga is to a skeptic? Are you at times unconvinced that there is any validity to this whole yoga thing, or that it’s anything more than a passing trend? Whatever the case may be, whether you could benefit from a little extra ammunition to fire at the non-believers out there, or in case you need a touch of convincing yourself, how about a testimony from our own Hawaii-born and -bred, three-time World Champion surf sensation, Carissa Moore?
When the effervescent Carissa walks in, her energy and spirit are immediately apparent. With a contagious smile that rarely leaves her face, she exudes warmth that makes her remarkably approachable despite her tremendous success. If you are unfamiliar with the “surf legend-in-the-making,” this 25-year-old Oahu native has been turning heads on the line up for about two decades. Her humility is unparalleled, and the more I speak to her, the clearer it gets that she really understands what is important in life. She possesses a balanced approach to life, making sure she takes time to enjoy and savor the little things. At the end of the day, she feels loved and happy, and knows that is paramount over any contest result.
Carissa barely recalls her first years of surfing, but the foundation was set simply in her love of going out and having fun with Dad. She was a natural, and eventually her competitive surfing career began in 2004. It wasn’t long before Carissa rose to the top of the pack, and proved herself as a formidable force. She became the youngest winner of the ASP Women’s World Tour in 2011. Little did the world know that she was just warming up. She went on to win that world title again in 2013, and, as if that weren’t enough, she claimed her third world title in 2015. It was during the preparation for her last title win that Carissa embarked on her yoga journey.
“I feel that every year that I’ve gone for a world title, one of the things in my mind is that you have to do something you’ve never done before,” explains Moore, “So adding yoga to the routine was kind of that extra little piece for me.” Yoga has since impacted her personally, as well as in competition.
Despite her bubbly, easy-going personality, Carissa is not to be underestimated. She has, and continues to work incredibly hard to achieve her goals. Her daily routine includes a rigorous training program in which she surfs seven days a week, and sometimes even twice a day. In addition to her time in the water, she works with personal trainers three to four times a week for endurance, stability, agility, cardio and strength training. She spends about half of the year on the road, and is usually paddling out by 6:00 a.m.
With such a demanding training regimen, Carissa and her trainer agreed that they had to find a balance in order to attain the maximum efficiency of her body while maneuvering through the water and on the waves. “That’s when my journey started,” she recalls of her 2015 quest for the top. Yoga became an efficient way to increase flexibility, elongate her muscles, and prevent injury.
“Because I’m not the most flexible,” laughs Moore, “But I enjoy it, and I can finally do a headstand.”
The physical benefits were obvious to Carissa. “The way that my body moves is so fluid from one maneuver to the next, and I attribute that to doing yoga,” she says. Carissa also notices a recent rise in popularity of yoga amongst the surf community, and noted that she personally sees a distinguishable difference between surfers who practice yoga, and those who don’t.
Beyond the physical, yoga—especially the “technique of breathing” with intention—became a beneficial tool for this dynamic athlete. She noticed that during competition, her yoga acumen helped her shift her focus away from the competition. “When you start spending too much energy on the things that you can’t control, that’s when things start to fall apart.”
In a fist-clenching moment during a competitive heat, Carissa understands the importance of being completely present on her board, and can reach into her “back pocket” yoga practice. “Especially when I’m behind in a heat, just really reaching into that toolbox, is one of those techniques that you learn in yoga.
For Moore, the physical component of competition is only about 10% of the game, while the mental aspect accounts for 80-90% of the experience. She has learned to utilize her breath to stay calm, and make the connection between her body and her mind. Moore readily admits that she falters when she succumbs to temptation and looks outside herself in a moment of competitive challenge. She endeavors to remain focused on how to be the best she can be in each moment, and feels the most satisfaction when she knows she has done all she can to prepare, no matter what the result —yet another piece of wisdom she learned through yoga.
While pre-competition madness rarely gives her time to do a full flow, Moore does try to fit a few poses in before entering the water. “I definitely take myself through some downward dogs and some cobras, some warriors,” says Moore, “It definitely helps heat up my body.”
And because Moore has grown to spend almost half of her time on the road, taking her yoga practice with her, has been a new development in her journey. The consistency of her practice has allowed her to lead a flow among her team now and then, or to simply move through a simple sun salutation to keep her centered and grounded.
“I don’t know where it’ll go but I like having it a part of my life,” Carissa says of her yoga journey, “I’ve seen the results.”
When Carissa is at home, she loves to practice at CorePower Yoga, where she says she feels at home, loved, and welcomed. With her grandma as a local resident, Kahala is her home studio. Some days, she even makes her practice an ‘ohana event, and you might bump into her practicing alongside her mom.
Carissa also stays busy speaking before youth at schools and local events, and hopes to continue utilizing her ability to reach out to speak with and inspire all types of people, especially young females. Looking to the future, Carissa is ecstatic to be marrying the love of her life in December 2017.
As for her surfing, she’s ready to take things further beyond the physical level of the sport. “I really want do mental training with a sport psychologist, or for just take time to journal everyday, or meditate or to visualize” she says, “Definitely spend more time doing yoga. Take more of a mental break.”
Stay tuned, as there is undoubtedly much more to come from this remarkable yogini!
By Alana Michele
Kahala based yoga instructor of the land, sea (SUP Yoga) and sky
(Aerial/Acro Yoga)! Alana received her 200- hour certification in Boulder, Colorado in 2006. Her goal is to create a safe space to dive inward with compassion. Expect moments of challenge,giggles, and sweet surrender. Private, semi-private group, event, and retreat instruction available!