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The Healing Cocoon Podcast

From Trauma to Dharma
with Yoga Therapist
Danielle Karuna

The path to forgiveness and grace.

Posted by:
Jacobie Gray

Trigger warning: Some details may be sensitive for readers who have suffered assault. 

On today’s episode of the podcast, we speak with Danielle Karuna, a seasoned yoga and meditation teacher and yoga therapist, who splits her time working in New York and Los Angeles. In our chat, she shares how she overcome trauma and her determination to find a better path for her life.

Danielle teaches public and private classes and workshops. Her clients also include world-renowned Grammy and Oscar winning artists, tech CEOs, individuals with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and women struggling with fertility. She draws on years of dedicated study in Tibetan Buddhism and yoga philosophy to find ground in her own life and to help others do the same.

The moment everything changed

Before the turn that took her down the yogic pathway, Danielle graduated from NYU and worked in New York as an actress. On the way home one night from her performance in an Off-Broadway show, she was attacked on a subway platform. A man came up behind her, strangled her until she had a seizure and threatened to rape and stab her repeatedly. The incident left Danielle traumatized and with intense PTSD, the pain of which became the catalyst of her healing journey.

Plant Medicine and InNER WISDOM

Latent body insecurities came to the surface post-attack. They became such deep, distorted thinking that she visited several plastic surgeons with a desire to change everything about her appearance. “But then,” she remembers, “there was this small little voice inside of me that said, ‘Maybe you need to change what’s on the inside before you change everything on the outside.’ But I couldn’t fathom what could be strong enough to help me in the way I needed help. I didn’t know how it could happen.” 

Through grace and a series of events, Danielle met a healer who recommended plant medicine as a means of translating this revelation into an experiential understanding through the healing power of ceremony. She says her first Ayahuasca experience (ah-yuh-wah-skuh…a woody South American vine used as a hallucinogenic), to her astonishment and also relief, absolutely skyrocketed her to a different mindset. Struggling with her self-worth up to this point, the intention she set for the ceremony was, “Dear God, please help me understand myself so I can love myself.” And she got it. 

She began doing really well after that, seeing a drastic improvement in her quality of life. But a few months later she experienced yet another assault— this time a little closer to home, which sent her back into a downward spiral. 

During another Ayahuasca ceremony, because the first had been so transformative in helping her process the initial assault, she received a download that she needed to explore yoga. She was blown away by her first experience on the mat. It was everything she’d been looking for, that she didn’t even know she was looking for. Yoga became a safe path for her healing to continue and for a deepening love of herself to blossom.

Supernatural Forgiveness

Listening to Danielle explain how she was able to forgive her subway attacker and even extend compassion and understanding towards him can only be described as moving and inspiring. During a particular meditation, she had a revelation that everyone has fear, that we are all suffering, and the guy that attacked her must have been afraid for some reason and had a need he thought harming her could serve. 

Her ability to forgive came from the practice of compassion. Her heart was open. She began to grasp an inner understanding that ‘hurt people, hurt people’ and the people hurting the most tend to hurt others the most. So her revelation, instead of blaming and pointing the finger back at him, has been to break that negative cycle, recognizing that he is one of those people that needs the most compassion and love of all.

When trauma alchemizes into dharma

Danielle is able to talk about her trauma so openly, with joy even, because she knows it brought  her where she is today. If she hadn’t had these traumatic experiences, she isn’t sure if she would have ever felt desperate enough to make the drastic changes she made. Processing the traumas, however awful, has been a crucial part of her story—it was the beginning of her healing journey and stepping onto her dharmic path. Ultimately, she is thankful for her trajectory and the higher powers she has connected with along the way, including herself. 

Her continuous practice observes Buddhist and yoga philosophies to bring her back to a place of joy, peace, and gratitude.

Learn more about Danielle at and find her on social media at @daniellekaruna.

For the full interview with Danielle, listen via the link on this page,, or find us on Instagram @thehealingcocoonpodcast.