Strong, passionate and warm-hearted: that’s Toni Dussex and her new business, Freedom Yoga in Longview.
After suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder when her first husband died unexpectedly in 2003, Dussex sought alternative treatments to medications. She discovered yoga supports mental, spiritual and physical healing.
“I took every medication, I was in therapy, and finally just got tired of being medicated all the time and living the way I was living and feeling the way I was feeling,” Dussex said. “I started researching alternative treatments for PTSD and trauma and depression, and yoga kept popping up as the latest research for those things.”
Now she shares her findings with the community.
“When I was diagnosed with PTSD, I thought I was always going to have PTSD. I went years without doing anything,” Dussex said. “I didn’t think that was anything that anyone could ever overcome or heal from. I love showing people that we don’t have to have that, that there’s alternative treatments for those things.”
Dussex worked as a yoga instructor for four years at the Institute for Healthy Living in Longview, after her yoga teacher talked her into training for Yogafit for Warriors, a program designed for people with PTSD.
“I feel connected with people that have [PTSD] issues because I’ve been through it,” Dussex said. “I understand what that’s like and what that feels like.”
Soon after, Dussex decided to start her own business. Client Scott Peters describes her as an entrepreneur and a supportive person.
“It’s a big risk when you start your own business, and to do it, you’ve got to be really passionate about it,” Peters said.
Happily remarried and enjoying life with her 16-year-old-son and great dane, Dussex’s passion for her business and supporting the community shines.
“I found my calling,” Dussex said. “I’m really proud that I’ve created exactly what I wanted to create — this environment where people can heal and create new relationships, a place where people can feel safe, good, healthy, and just better.”
Dussex teaches a combination of different yoga styles, including vinyasa, restorative, gentle, and specialty yoga for people with disabilities. She also offers optional private classes personalized to each client. Yoga member Abby Simpson said she benefits from these classes.
“You go in her studio and you immediately feel warmth and comfort....” Simpson said. “Everything she does comes from her heart.”
Classes cater to varying schedules, as there classes are seven days a week, with different styles and levels taught throughout the day. For people who are active-duty military, veterans, and first responders, membership fees are donation-based.
Dussex said she is excited to introduce yoga to new members and encourages people of all ages and backgrounds to try classes.
“You make yoga work for your body; you don’t make your body work for it,” Dussex said. “Yoga is for everybody. I have students all the way from 5 to 80.”
Dussex has plans to move into a larger building under construction near her studio. There, she plans to add aerial yoga to the class offerings as well as possible massage therapy and counseling rooms.
For more information, check out the Freedom Yoga Inc. Facebook page, website, or download the MINDBODY app and search Freedom Yoga Inc. to view class descriptions and instructor bios.