Arielle Thomas Newman of Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, is owner of Yoga By the Sea, morethanyoga.com. Newman, a longtime Kansas City choreographer, dance critic and yoga instructor, moved to Playa Del Carmen with her husband in 2001 and opened a studio where she offers classes and teacher certification. This conversation took place at Port Fonda when Newman was back in Kansas City to give a workshop, which she does a few times a year.
Your life sounds like a fantasy: Pack it up and move to a tropical beach. Why did you decide to live in Playa Del Carmen?
I had a friend who was a travel agent and she had a connection in Akumal, a little beach town south of Playa Del Carmen, and we would go there. At one point, I realized that I had made three separate one-week trips there in one year, and I don’t go anywhere that often. So I thought: Huh, that’s interesting.
Then my husband had an opportunity to sell his part of a family business and do something else, and I said, “Let’s check out Mexico, where I’ve been going.” It was a big and bold move.
What was house hunting like down there?
It was crazy. We had one weekend to find a place. We rented a VW Beetle and loaded our suitcases in that and we ran across a guy who was a real estate agent who spoke English. It was a Saturday and his office closed midday so we had to find something in one morning.
Our criteria was, you had to be able to see the sea. The first place we had, if you went up one story to the rooftop and peeked over the trees, you could see that strip of azul blue of the Caribbean.
For the past 10 years we’ve rented an apartment a block and a half from the sea.
What is your business like?
I have a yoga studio on the roof of a boutique hotel three blocks from the sea. You can see the ocean, the palm trees and all of Playa Del Carmen.
I have local clients, mostly ex-pats who live there full time and snowbirds, and also tourists who find me through my website. I can teach in Spanish and English.
Besides the weather, what is different about living there as opposed to Kansas City?
Time moves more slowly. I learned that “ahorita,” which the dictionary says means “right now,” really means “maybe tomorrow or maybe next week when I want to do it.”
You have to pay all your bills in cash. So you go to the electric company to pay your electric bill and the phone company to pay your phone bill. And you have to go to the bank to pay your rent. There are quaint and lovely aspects to that.
Why were you not afraid to make such a radical change in your life?
I was afraid. But I did it anyway.
I call myself a reluctant adventurer. I have these big adventures, but somewhat reluctantly because I carry some fear around with me while I’m doing it. I’m a worrier and a warrior. But the rewards are there.