"If I didn't do yoga, I would keep zooming toward tomorrow instead of living for today," says Carol Buckley, the 53-year-old cofounder and director
of the Elephant Sanctuary, in Hohenwald, Tennessee. "Yoga helps me remember that every minute of every day is precious." Her once-a-week practice
is less than she'd like, but her story shows that she lives her yoga, though in an unusual way.
In 1976 when Buckley was a 22-year-old student at the Exotic Animal Training and Management Program at Moorpark College near Simi Valley, California, she met
Tarra, a six-month-old elephant who was being exhibited at a tire store. Troubled by Tarra's situation, Buckley volunteered to care for and train the baby
elephant, and ultimately purchased Tarra from her owner—an act that has shaped Buckley's life ever since.
For a decade, she and Tarra lived in Ojai, California, performing in circuses and giving elephant rides at zoos. In time, though, Buckley wanted a change.
"I wasn't satisfied with options available to captive elephants," she says. Her experiences led her to build a refuge for old, sick, and needy
elephants. The nonprofit Elephant Sanctuary, now in Hohenwald, Tennessee, occupies 2,700 acres and is home to 19 female elephants.
"My greatest challenge came when I tried to rescue eight circus elephants. I wasn't accustomed to dealing with politics. My philosophy is to be open and
honest, but that wasn't working. My yoga reminded me to breathe, to let go of needing things to go my way, to allow others to help. In the end, I succeeded
in bringing the elephants to the sanctuary."
But Buckley doesn't take all the credit. "The sanctuary is a result of Tarra," she says. "This is her gift to her sisters in America." Of
difficulties, Buckley says: "When you set your mind to do something, you don't stop and say, 'This is too hard.' You do it. So what if it's hard?"
Which sounds a lot like yoga.
To view a video of Tarra greeting the Elephant Sanctuary's newest arrival, visit elephants.com/dulary/dulary_diary.htm.