Wednesday, June 3, 2020
Sun Valley Yoga Instructor Doesn’t Let Coronavirus Shutdown Stop Him
Richard Odom is taking advantage of the stay-home order to watch “those wonderful black and white Turner Classics movies” and old sports broadcasts. He’s also teaching call-in yoga classes as a gift to the community.
Wednesday, April 8, 2020


There may be one benefit to the current stay-at-home order. You can do yoga with Richard Odom in your pajamas.

Odom is known as the grandfather of yoga in Sun Valley. He has been teaching yoga here since 1974 when he introduced it during a calisthenics class at the old Sun Valley Physical Fitness—Ketchum’s first gym.

And he’s not about to let a stay-at-home order imposed during the coronavirus pandemic keep him from serving his faithful.

So, he’s offering call-in classes Monday through Friday at 12:15 p.m. He’s offering the classes free of charge, although grateful yoga students can “pay what you feel” at his Venmo account.

“It’s kind of a community service, which boy do we need right now,” said Tim Eagan, who participated in Odom’s first call-in yoga class with his wife Jane Reynolds a few days ago.

Odom is a fixture in the yoga circles in the valley, first at the old Sun Valley Athletic club and more recently at the Wood River Community YMCA in Ketchum and IdaYoga in Hailey.

He was teaching four classes a day when class participants began to drop out of classes. Then classes closed amidst efforts to stop the coronavirus spread.

At first, he went to Atkinsons daily to see familiar faces and have an opportunity to say, “How are you doing?” as much as to buy something.

Then, as the number of coronavirus cases in the valley rose, he stopped his visits to the store. Now he takes walks in the field next to Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church.

“I went out this weekend and there was no sound, no vehicles, for maybe 10 minutes There were no people, no sounds in town, nothing. And I’m going--wow!—part of this is really nice.”

At first, Odom had a sense of guilty pleasure as he didn’t have to get up at 5:30 in the morning to teach a class at 7 a.m. Then, he decided he needed to get creative and reach out to people.

“I knew it would be therapeutic. That it would help slow down these monkey minds that are going a thousand miles an hour. Slow down those data brain waves into the alpha rate, sometimes called the realm of filtering. Give people a chance to clear their heads for an hour. Provide a spiritual connection and emotional connection as well as a physical and mental connection.”

He got the idea for a call-in from a friend who does a lot of conference calls. You can have as many as a thousand people on a call, his friend told him.

Having put together a professional DVD, Odom was shocked how amateurish a session on cellphone looked. So, he moved to an iPad and ordered equipment that will hold the iPad to provide a better angle.

Mary Williams a colleague at the YMCA, suggested he not worry so much about the visual. It’s your voice people want to hear, she said.

 “Anyone who has taken my class has grown used to my clear explanations, my rhetoric, my voice. I’ve had people tell me, ‘Richard, even though we buy your DVD, we don’t look at it We just listen to your voice.’ Many people have told me they come to class to hear my voice,” he recounted.

Odom began thinking about those whose voices have stood out to him, including the late newscaster  Walter Cronkite and Prairie Home Companion’s Garrison Keillor.

“And I realized, yeah, people need to see my image occasionally. They say, ‘It’s helpful to see what you’re doing because sometimes I’m not sure. But, for the most part, your voice is enough.”

Odom gives a brief introduction as the call-in class starts, reminding them that if it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. As always, he includes his running commentary, which sometimes veers off into stories of his childhood and always includes his quirky sense of humor.

“There’s no equipment needed except for your cell phone. It’s designed to get you off your body and address your physical, psychological and emotional aspects. And an hour later it’s over. You’ve been checked into the present moment. Your body’s strong. Your mind’s strong. You’re coming back transformed.”

Want to join Richard’s class? Call 563-999-2090. The access code is 746-482.

The Venmo account is richardodomyoga.


The Blaine County Recreation District’s fitness instructors are offering live, free fitness classes via Zoom beginning today.

Classes include Deep Stretch yoga, H.I.I.T, Barre, Pilates Body Sculpt and Posture Fitness. Go to to see the schedule.

To join in, log into https// on a computer, phone or tablet.


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