Billy discovered the physical side of yoga through somewhat of a backdoor. His yoga journey began with an inner awakening and a spiritual search, which led him to a deep, dedicated meditation practice. After years of practicing long hours of sitting in meditation, his body began to become very stiff and sore from the lack of movement, so he began to study yoga postures from various books. Practicing these yoga postures daily began to transform his body and his practice so much that, in 2011, he decided to take a yoga certification course, not necessarily with the intent to teach, but in a search to deepen his own practice and knowledge of yoga.
Upon completing his training, Billy continued to practice alone, but decided one day to invite two friends to join him for a yoga practice in his spare bedroom. It was his first time teaching a yoga class to anyone, and he incorporated everything he believed yoga to stand for, and even added his own personal motivational speaking throughout the class. At the end of the class, one of his friends expressed how transformational the class was for her, and urged Billy to keep teaching, and that she felt he had found his calling in life.
Billy continued to teach to his friends in his spare room, and soon moved his yoga space to his garage, as more and more people were finding out about the classes and wanted to attend the classes. He began accepting donations for the classes, never asking for money, but leaving a donation bag out for those who felt to donate. He began to teach two classes every day of the week, and was soon taking reservations for the classes for several weeks out. The people attending the classes kept returning, expressing that they’ve never felt better in their life! The yoga practice and breathing exercises were helping with their anxiety, depression, stress levels, aches and pains, and even numerous medical conditions. People were sleeping better, having less anxiety, connecting deeper to their spirituality, and so much more. They were transforming their bodies and minds, and this motivated Billy to continue teaching---this was his goal: to share the healing and transformative benefits of yoga, and to help others to see that there is something beyond the mundane programmed existence, the “rat race”.
Soon, Billy opened his first yoga studio locally in rural Kentucky, to continue providing yoga classes to the community, and continued to provide the classes completely donation-based. Students continued to find inner peace, relaxation, stress relief, and more. People were finding clarity in the midst of life’s struggles, others were working through past trauma, and many others were finding many physical benefits, such as weight loss, muscle gain, increased bone density, increased lung capacity, regained mobility after physical trauma, and so much more.
It was during 2012 that Billy met Padma, who silently dedicated herself to becoming a student of yoga, and trained as a yoga instructor under Billy’s guidance. Together, in 2013, they moved to Clarksville, TN, and opened Raja Hot Yoga with the same idea and philosophy as Billy’s original methodology of holding donation-based classes, and teaching classes that met every student exactly where they’re at. This was met with an immense welcoming in the Clarksville/Ft Campbell area, but not without great resistance and challenge from other local yoga studios and instructors, and Billy and Padma could not open up enough classes to meet the great demand! After almost two years of around-the-clock hot yoga classes and studio management, and several yoga teacher trainings, a decision was made to sell the studios and take some time for rest and soul-searching. It was during this time that the original idea for Bare Yogis was born, though it didn't quite come together yet.
Several years passed before the re-opening of Billy and Padma's hot yoga studio in Clarksville, TN, in February of 2019 under the name of Ahava Hot Yoga, but utilizing the same mission and the same message, and having a very similar success. Shortly after celebrating their one-year studio anniversary, the global pandemic of 2020 caused their local community to mandate the closure of many businesses, including Ahava Hot Yoga (which revolved around large group classes). This temporary closing, which was originally intended to be for just a few weeks, turned into months, and being a small not-for-profit business, Ahava Hot Yoga unfortunately had to close its doors permanently, as it couldn't sustain a "closed" business. However, throughout this time of closure, Billy and Padma wanted to continue to make their classes, trainings, and community easily accessible to all of their local students, but also to their thousands of students who no longer lived in the area (having taught mostly military and military family for almost ten years).
It was then that the idea of Bare Yogis resurfaced once again---an online yoga studio and community, continuing to make yoga accessible to all people, helping people to mend their bodies and minds, and maintaining a donation-based structure. The idea also came about to incorporate nature and travel into Bare Yogis, as nature plays a huge role in Billy and Padma's lives, and even for yoga and self-care, itself. Billy traded his tiny home for a school bus, and worked to convert the school bus into an RV / camper. This gave Billy and Padma the ability to travel to various nearby state parks, film yoga videos and trainings, and have their own amenities while traveling, and maintain their lifestyle as being as frugal and nature-oriented as they like to be.
Launching an entirely restructured business was no easy task to accomplish within just a few short months, especially working with such a tight budget in the midst of global restructure, but Billy and Padma accomplished just that, and launched Bare Yogis on July 1, 2020.
Ultimately, if Bare Yogis has any one goal, it is to highlight an avenue that each individual can take to improve their physical and mental health, and to incorporate pure joy into their everyday life!
Bare Yogis group yoga class. Billy Barefoot Yogi.
Ahava Hot Yoga group yoga class, Billy Barefoot Yogi
Raja Hot Yoga. Group hot yoga class. Savasana. Rest pose.
Bare Yogis group yoga class. Billy Barefoot Yogi.