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Yoganomics: The Yoga Boom in Tulum

12 September, 2012

“A Hot Spot for Yoga Tourists” New York Times

Ok, it’s now official...yoga is not just for hippies anymore. Yoga, the 6000-year-old art, is fast becoming a massive, multi-billion-dollar industry, with 35 million practitioners in the U.S. alone. Don’t believe me? Search the word ‘yoga’ on the Amazon and you’ll find 70,000 related products in over 30 different departments. Even Walmart’s website has some 1,000 yoga products. With $27 billion in revenues coming from the U.S. by way of sales of retreats, conferences, books, tapes, audios, and videos, the yoga industry boasts over 70,000 studios and 700,000 subscribers to Yoga Journal Magazine.Why the yoga phenomenon? It appears yoga has become an important respite and refuge in the stressful, hectic, high-pressure lives of modern Americans and even the very rich and very busy are making their way to the yoga mat (Steve Jobs, Phil Jackson, Hilary Clinton, Donna Karan, Madonna, Katie Couric, Senator Harry Reid, Oprah, to name a few). Perhaps it’s because yoga has become so supremely profitable that a surprising number of of executives, politicians, moguls and high rollers are hitting the mat.

One such place which is drawing these dedicated, neo-yogies is located only 350 nautical miles across the Gulf from Florida on a pristine patch of Mexico’s only Caribbean coast. Tulum is a sacred strip of Mayan beach and jungle, dotted with haute bohemian huts and palapas that are only a few hours by plane from Los Angeles or New York but totally off the grid. It’s hard to tell who chanted the first ‘Om’ or unrolled the first yoga mat on the white sand beach of this Mayan Eden, but one thing is for sure, Tulum is destined to be the next international hot spot for yoga and spa tourist alike.

With the backdrop of Mayan ruins perched on a cliff above crystalline waters, you’ll find thatch and palm constructed, eco-chic yoga resorts and spas planted just above the tide. You feel as though you could be on some remote island found anywhere on Earth...Bali, Thailand, Indonesia, Bora Bora, or Gilligan’s Island for that matter. From the first moment you step out of the car and set foot on this sacred land you sense a tranquility and peace that is almost palpable. 

You’ll cool off in pre-historic, spring-fed, swimming holes called cenotes (Mayan for wells). These are deep, crystal-clear freshwater caves and underground rivers located, in many cases, just a few minutes from the beach. As you can imagine, the cuisine at these yoga-centric spas is stunning and reflects the eclectic palates of the expats who have settled here: French, Italian, German, Argentinian, and a panoply of dishes from both coasts of the U.S.

The number of new spas and yoga retreats are growing exponentially and big name yogis and their following yoga enthusiasts are mounting. The renowned Maya Tulum Yoga Resort was recently voted the number 2 spa in the world by “Travel + Leisure's World's Best Spa Awards”, Blue Tulum Spa Resort was ranked as “One of World's Best Spas” on Expedia Insiders' Awards (out of 110,000 properties listed worldwide), and Cabanas Copal Spa in Tulum was recently recommended on National Geographic Traveler Must Stay List. 

There are already 40 different spas and yoga retreats within a short driving distance of Tulum, several of them internationally recognized, and at least ten more major spa / yoga developments currently in the works. Although Tulum is quickly becoming an international yoga Mecca, developers are wisely embracing ecological and environmental concerns along with rapid growth ensuring that this unspoiled “Spa of the Mayans” is preserved for many yogis to come.