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Discover Your True Strength

Asian elephants perform at a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus in Washington, D.C.  PHOTOGRAPH BY SARAH L. VOISIN, THE WASHINGTON POST/GETTY

Asian elephants perform at a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus in Washington, D.C.
PHOTOGRAPH BY SARAH L. VOISIN, THE WASHINGTON POST/GETTY

Did you see the announcement this week that “The Greatest Show on Earth,” Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, will be phasing out their elephant act by 2018? This news couldn’t make me happier.

While working at a sports and entertainment arena in Arizona, it always made me sad when this circus would come to town. I’d see firsthand how the large circus animals are put in small cages. During the rare times they are out of their cages to put on a show for the people who pay money to see it, they’re dominated mentally and physically by trainers.

The majestic Asian Elephants will retire with dignity to the 200-acre Center for Elephant Conservation located in central Florida.

Thinking about the elephants reminded me of a story that yoga instructor Kate Walker tells at the end of one of her yoga DVDs:

In the circus, a trainer will tie a baby elephant to a pole with rope. The baby elephant will pull and pull, but can’t get away. So the baby elephant gives up and never tries again.

This baby elephant grows to become a huge elephant that could easily break free from the rope that holds him and take the entire circus tent down. But because he believes he can’t escape, the massive and strong elephant remains there, still tied to a pole with just a rope.

Each of us is this giant elephant.

What is it in your life that you believe you can’t do? What stories do you tell yourself that hold you back? What have you convinced yourself that you’re too weak to accomplish?

Through the practice of yoga, remind yourself of the giant elephant that you are. Try again and you might just discover your true strength.

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