Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Yoga stretches beyond the studio

Ketchum’s yoga guru Richard Odom to release his first DVD

Express Staff Writer

Photo by Thia Konig Richard Odom will present his yoga DVD at a release party today, Dec. 22, at Iconoclast Books in Ketchum.

In 1974, Richard Odom started teaching yoga in the Wood River Valley. Odom had been a faithful yoga practioner since the age of 13. He hailed from Daytona Beach, Fla., and, like many people, Odom said he came to Sun Valley for only a ski season and has stayed since.

Influenced by his parents, who had an interest in world philosophy and a large home library to support it, Odom found his path toward enlightenment on his own.

"I was aware of Eastern and Western ideology," Odom said. "It was no big deal to me. I thought it was very natural."

As Odom quietly practiced yoga on his own, he developed his own sense of yoga style.

"Nothing was available in coastal resort towns," he said. "As I got older, I went to California and found it a little better. I never considered teaching."

Odom has now been teaching yoga for 37 years. His followers are Wood River Valley residents, second-home owners, vacationers and friends of friends.

"People have always wanted to fit me into a slot," he said. "I walk a different path."

Weight lifting, tennis, handball, body surfing and skiing have all been part of Odom's regimen, as has reading.

"Part of my appeal is having been here for a million years," he said with a laugh. "I've had no mentors."

Odom said many people come to his classes from all over the country because they've heard about him and had to come see him in person to benefit from his teaching.

"I've made it difficult," Odom acknowledges. "People have begged me for a video because they like the way I teach."

Odom's classes are different. His regular weekday 7 a.m. class at the Wood River Community YMCA in Ketchum and additional afternoon classes are always filled. Once on the mats, Odom's students become a strong community. Odom's students are faithful in their attendance and ready to listen to his yoga flow sequences.

"It's not what you think," he said. "An hour after class is over, you're in an alternate state of consciousness."

Odom is very thankful to his students, especially when they tell him how they really needed his class and how good they feel.

"It's cool," he said. "I realized that for so many people my approach was unique."

With the release of his new DVD, Odom's followers and others can now practice at home when they can't make it to his class. Though he claims he has no particular approach, Odom said he certainly has been influenced.

"It's authentic," he said. "I know I do good work. You don't need a kick-in-the-butt approach to yoga because you won't keep up. You need to heal."

Odom will have a DVD release party at Iconoclast Books in Ketchum today, Dec. 22, from 4-6 p.m. His DVD retails for $29.95 and includes two one-hour sessions and two 30-minute sessions as well as a 15-minute introduction. The DVD will be available for sale at the YMCA in Ketchum, Atkinson's Market in Ketchum.

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