We recently caught up with Danielle Thornton, who completed Zuna Yoga's  200 hour Bali yoga teacher training in 2014 and 300 hour yoga teacher training in January 2016. 

Danielle lives in Dallas TX. She recently founded Starana, a healing practice incorporating yoga, meditation, breath work and reiki for clients with serious illness, end-of-life or other challenging transitions. 

ZY: What does "Starana" mean?

DT: It's a Sanskrit word defined as the act of spreading or scattering. It's my hope to spread and scatter the seeds of healing, strength, wisdom and compassion where they are needed most. I provide holistic support for clients undergoing medical treatment for a serious illness, facing end-of-life in palliative care, or experiencing a major life change such as job loss or divorce.

ZY: Please tell us a little about your professional background!

DT: My work background has been pretty diverse! I started my career in medical biologics sales, and worked in that field for almost 10 years. After that, I found my way to my first yoga teacher training in Bali. For a few years, I taught yoga and worked as a private health food chef. I had a few clients with serious illnesses who were facing their own mortality. In working with them, I saw a clear need that I could easily fill to help enrich their lives. It was at that point that the seed for Starana was planted, without me consciously knowing it. After walking these clients through their journey and volunteering my services at a local hospice, I decided to formalize the services I provide into a business. Looking back, all my work and life experiences have perfectly prepared me for my journey with Starana.  I've had the call to help people who are suffering or dying since childhood. It wasn't until recently that I was ready or clear enough to listen.

ZY: Tell us one little known Fun Fact about yourself

DT: I thrive when my environment is tidy. And I love to clean... #nerdalert  

ZY: How did you earn your first dollar?

DT: Wrapping holiday presents at a family friend's clothing store in Vicksburg, MS.  

ZY: What are you currently reading?

DT: Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. I highly recommend it for men and women alike! 

ZY: What's the most rewarding part of your work?

DT: That I get to be intimately involved in one of the most sacred and powerful times of a person's life. Through my experience, I've learned that facing our own mortality can allow us space to access a profound openness and vulnerability.  It's when we find ourselves at a place where we don't actually know what's going to happen next that we can create the most fertile ground to dive deeper into the present moment. This allows us to access our inner ability to heal and grow. It's through being around those facing their own mortality that gives me a mirror to look into my own. This in turn amplifies my appreciation for life!

ZY: What's the most challenging part?

DT: Educating potential clients, healthcare workers, and hospice communities to see the value in a service that is outside of the typical model they are accustomed to. My goal is for holistic and integrated therapies for people with serious illness and/or facing death to be more widely accepted in the medical and hospice communities. 

ZY: How did your yoga teacher training prepare you for the work you're currently doing?

DT: It helped to lay the foundation for me to access embodied presence, evolution of consciousness, deeper self-awareness, and connection to myself and to our Creator. This in turn has allowed me to find a deeper connection to others and the world around me. Being in full presence with my clients is the cornerstone of my practice. From there, I work with the knowledge learned in my teacher training to help clients discover calm and presence among the unpredictability of their circumstance.

ZY: What do you do for self-care?

DT: Obviously, my yoga and meditation practice are a priority!  Spending time in nature, King Spa (an amazing Koren spa in Dallas), travel, swimming, reflexology, spending time with my loved ones and dogs (Milton and Stanley), Ecstatic Dance (I love this conscious dance movement!), cooking healthy food, cleaning, and gardening are among a few. 

ZY: What advice do you have for someone wanting to start their own yoga-related business? 

DT: Give yourself the time and space to integrate your experience from yoga teacher training. I found that both during and after my trainings so much internal change happened, that it took some time for the change to settle in my life. When creating a business, your business evolves as you evolve! So be sure that your own processes and practices are a priority. Also, be clear about what your personal boundaries are: what does or does not work for you. If you are clear, then people you work with will be clear, making the working relationship healthier and much smoother.

ZY: What important lessons have you learned since starting your own business?

DT: How much time do you have? Ha! To name a few, lessons in knowing my value, boundaries, and standing firm in my moral compass. Also I've learned lessons in free falling, faith, trust, and courage.

ZY: What did you wish people knew about dying?

DT: That there is no "right" or "wrong" way to die.  If you have a loved one who is dying, the greatest gift you can give them is full acceptance of who they are and where they are in their process.  There are things that can make the process much more supportive and peaceful if they are open to it. Also, it's never too late to learn, evolve, and heal-- even in the last hours or minutes on earth. I've seen many people have huge life lessons realized days and even hours before they passed. 

ZY: What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?

DT: To stay in your heart. 

Information about Danielle's services can be found at www.starana.com 

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