Hi everyone, and welcome!
I am super excited today to
be interviewing the amazing
Cristin Smith at Saffron and
Sage about sacred self care and finding your soul’s calling.
Ashley Leavy: So, Cristin, thank you so much for being here to talk about sacred self care and opening your soul’s calling with us.
Cristin Smith: You’re welcome. Thanks for having me!
Ashley: I’m really excited about this interview because I think your business is a little bit different to anything else that we’ve really featured on the podcast before. You have such an amazing combination of products and classes and events. It’s really exciting for me to speak with someone who’s also in the health and wellness industry. You do so much.
Would you mind taking a couple of minutes to introduce yourself to everyone and tell them a little bit about Saffron and Sage?
Cristin: Absolutely! So, I’m Cristin Smith. I am the founder and owner of Saffron and Sage. We are a holistic health club located in Little Italy here in the heart of San Diego, and we really focus on preventative and integrated wellness.
We do this through creating multi-sensory healing experiences for our clients. That could look like acupuncture, massage, energy therapy, or mineral therapy. It could look like yoga, breathwork, meditation, or sounds. Or it could be one of our workshops to really educate on things such as the science of mindfulness or one of our cooking workshops where we talk about the art of eating and intuitive eating and digestion.
We’re really focused on connecting mind, body, and spirit. Here in Saffron and Sage, we connect those through identifying thoughts, trauma, and toxins that have picked up residence in the brain and the body.
We use an integrative way to really help our clients regain or maintain their wellbeing and we do that through our member-based approach.
So, you can come in and take a class, or get a massage. Most of our clients have signed up for our membership that is two hundred dollars a month and it gives you access to one service every single month and eight classes in our studio. We’re really having a great time supporting the executives, and entrepreneurs, and leaders in the community who are focused on doing the deep work.
Ashley: You know, I have to tell you, you are truly living the dream that I know a lot of our listeners would love to create in their own lives- running a wellness studio.
Could you tell us a little bit about your journey and how that really got started for you, and how it all developed into the amazing success that it is today?
Cristin: Sure! Yeah. So, interestingly enough, I come from the financial and insurance services sector. So I’ve been in business forever. This is my fourth company, but actually, the only company that I didn’t realize I was starting and that grew organically out of my journey. It’s been about a twelve-year journey I would say.
After being so successful in financial services, I started looking at the interior landscape of my life and really exploring emotionally healthy spirituality. What does that look like?
When you achieve your material goals, you start to ask the deeper questions and I was lucky enough to start exploring those in my early twenties.
That really lead to this transition, and I started delving deeper into spiritual formation and spiritual practices like practicing solitude, silence, fasting, and all sorts of things. Shortly thereafter, that lead to a six month sabbatical in Mexico. I end up relocating to Tijuana, not Tulum. Most people think, “Oh my, you must live in a beautiful space.” But I was in this incubator, if you will, for six months.
I really focused on shedding my workaholism, and delving deeper into my beliefs and my values.
During that time, doctors found four tumors in my neck and my thyroid, and they couldn’t figure out why. After a second opinion, third opinion, fourth opinion, still no one could figure out the root cause, but they were all in consensus that I needed to have surgery and said that I was going to be depending upon pharmaceutical drugs for the rest of my life.
That just didn’t resonate with me, so that lead me to reading and researching, and I stumbled upon traditional Chinese medicine, and Ayurveda, and really understanding this mind-body connection. That altered everything.
I started pooling together my own multi-disciplinary team of practitioners from Tijuana to San Diego all the way up to L.A. I was seeing the best of the best. But it was expensive and very scary. It was a really lonely period of time. I was having to understand their diagnosis as well as their treatment plans, and figure out which advice I should take. Which therapies do I move forward with right now, which don’t I? It was a lot to decide.
It’s the world that I think a lot of us find ourselves in. We are diagnosed with chronic conditions, but then how do we navigate this world of holistic healthcare?
You almost feel like you’re moving through a jungle with a machete, right? Like trying to figure everything out. Thing’s that I feel embarrassed to say like how much money I spent and how much time it took. There were so many moments where I thought “Wow. This could be so much easier if…” and that’s really what Saffron and Sage is. It’s the culmination of all the treatments and therapies and modalities that I have incorporated under one roof, and we really design this membership model in order to provide affordable access to holistic health care.
Our brand is really centered around wellness.
When I was in Kaiser, I was in this very clinical sterile environment that was anxiety-provoking, but yet that is the space where we often feel most comfortable, because we know that the practices there are based on science, right? Versus when we step into wellness spaces that, you know, there’s crystals and tie-dye, and we get spooked, right? We worry like, “Are you going to put a hex on me?” Like “What’s going on here?”
So, what I really aimed to do was create a brand that was accessible to the modern woman.
Accessible to the woman who is a researcher, who is doing reading and wants to make sure that what she’s doing is supported by evidence-based research, but it’s gonna hold the space for her soul. It’s gonna hold space for the questions that are floating to the surface. Holding space for the liminal experience where things are falling apart. We need someone who we can trust who’s going to companion us and hold space for us emotionally and spiritually.
Ashley: Well, it sounds like everything kind of evolved out of your personal journey. You took that and realized it. It wasn’t just you that needed that, it was all of us that need this. You’ve really created a business and a brand that offers this in a way that is truly unique.
I have not seen any other wellness centers that offer the diversity of practices that you do, and it’s really refreshing and exciting to see that this can exist and really thrive and be successful.
I really hope that there are people listening and watching right now that will take your success and run with it and know that this is really possible to create this. Not only for yourself but in the lives of others as well. It’s really exciting for me to see this unfolding.
I want to touch on something because a lot of your story was about shutting out the workaholism, and shutting out the need and push for the day to day grind and really living more in alignment with your body, with your mind, and with your spirit. A lot of that kind of comes down to self-care. And I think the idea of self-care has been so distilled as of late that it means find yourself a fancy sweater or eating a chocolate bar that you want to eat. Self-care should be so much more than that.
You have something called Self-care Saturdays — I was wondering if you could touch on the importance of self-care and then what you’re doing at Saffron and Sage to really encourage this through Self-care Saturdays?
Cristin: Great question. You know, I agree with you. I think self-care has been really idolized as something that’s trendy and sexy and lost its connectivity to depth and transformation. Here, we want to invite people into the depths. Most of the experiences that we facilitate are about stepping into the Yin, stepping into the darker spaces that we tend to been locked in our everyday lives and leaning into that discomfort.
I think self-care takes a lot of different forms.
Just a few days ago, we had our full moon circle and ceremony. We’re hosting ritual experiences twice a month around the lunar cycles, and that is a self-care ritual for a lot of our members. It’s a time of introspection and connection with other members. I think we had almost twenty women, and actually, a few guys were in there as well which is amazing to see.
So, it’s a time where we open up the body with a few gentle restorative postures as well as really getting to connect and share with those that are in sacred space with us. We draw out of us some things that are still causing friction or disconnection in our lives and in our relationships. Sitting with those things, we partake in a cacao ceremony, which is an ancient ritual that’s been used in cultures throughout the Americas for forever. It’s a heart-opening dream that’s allowing us to connect to our true center. Connect to the cosmos and what’s percolating in and around us.
Self care could look like taking a bath. I know for a lot of our community here, breathwork, part of our sacred Sunday experience, is in the ritual that I do.
I think it’s really important to start small. Here, everything we do is about meeting you where you’re at.
We figure out what’s that one thing that we can start with. It doesn’t have to be, “I’m going do yoga four times a week.” That’s a bit overwhelming. Start with, “Can I buy one of our salt baths and take that home and take a bath once a week.” Or “Can I wake up in the morning and have my tea and fill it with some of my adaptogenic herbs and just sit and look out the window or journal.”
It also doesn’t have to be expensive. That’s really important to me to know that these self-care rituals don’t have to cost money. Yes, there are some beautiful experiences that we can do too. Like we have a new moon massage that you can do every month. Most of our members, I think, use their membership and their wellness routines as part of their self-care experience, but it can be something that we can incorporate daily, weekly, monthly.
Looking for those small things that can create a rhythm in our lives are so important. It’s really about rediscovering ritual, and that’s what happens here on Self-care Saturday.
We start with our deep stretch class which is really about gently opening and awakening the body. Really elongating our muscles, our fascia tissues, and getting connected. Out of our brains, into our bodies. Then we transition into our cleansing meditation where we use a lot of different crystals, and I love this class because I think a lot of our members are like, “Oh crystals are boho.” But we get to talk about the science and how you use them.
We talk about body brushing. We use our selenite stone brushes to body brush in those classes. In addition to this, we do guided visualization exercises and partner exercises. We create a connection with ourselves, the divine, and those sitting right next to us.
I think self-care can be practiced in many ways. It’s something that is very individualistic and personal, and it can be private as well as have its place in the community.
Ashley: You know, I want to touch back to something that you mentioned really briefly before, and I know this wasn’t one of our talking points for the interview, but I am just so excited by this concept that you brought up.
One of the things that you encourage people to do is dive into the Yin and really embrace those darker things. Could you just touch on the importance of this and why this is something that’s part of the core of what you do at Saffron and Sage?
Cristin: So, in addition to being the founder and also a practitioner here — it’s myself and Greg Richardson, who’s also one of our spiritual directors. From my training as a spiritual director and my background in spiritual formation, something that tends to come up in that space is we companion clients through times of transition, times of loss, times of pain, and times of suffering and we become acquainted with a new language. A new way of being.
The thing in the western context, is that this is not really part of the cultural fabric of our bias, and so we look to ancient traditions and we look to ancient cultures who have held space for rights of passage. Looking at walkabouts. Looking at all these different rituals that were designed to move us through different seasons or stages of life. From adolescence into adulthood. We move from adulthood into being the grandmother, the grandfather of the family or the community. I see this is such a forgotten area of our society that people are craving it.
When we first started, I thought, “Well, it’s going to take years before people gravitate in a spiritual direction. It’s going to be too much.”
Within our first three months of opening, almost two years ago, it was one of our most booked services. You know, we’re in a culture that’s oriented around activity and productivity. Our worth and our value is intricately tied to these things. I think a lot of our clients are coming here in times of transition. They’re like, “I went to school, I got the job. I hate my job. It’s not in alignment with who I am.”
Now, they’re getting in touch with their intuition. Cultivating their ability to discern what’s in alignment with their true essence. What’s in alignment with their values. We do a lot of deconstruction work and spiritual direction. I think that Yin plays in that darkness in the space where we can poke our heads into and sit with.
I think so many of our clients were experiencing burnouts. It looks so similar to depression that they often confuse the two.
So they think, “I need to see a psychotherapist or I need to talk to someone, I’m going crazy. I’m losing my mind. My life is unraveling. Things don’t look the same.” Realizing, “No, this is an experience of liminality.” You’re moving to a new phase of life.
In the states we’re all too well acquainted with midlife crisis, right? Things are falling apart but we want to embrace those changes and those transitions. It doesn’t mean that we do that gracefully, but we should be holding space for those difficult conversations. I think that’s really one of the most powerful experiences.
When it comes to yoga, a lot of people right now are doing hot yoga and power yoga.
Philosophically, while we don’t agree with things like hot yoga, I think, again, the reflection of what we do in our everyday lives of hyperactivity and ‘go go go’ is reflected in how we are desiring to interact with things that are supposed to soothe our soul. And yes, we do need to sweat. We do need to work out. But we need to do that in a way that is honoring to our bodies and doing it in a way that prevents injury and things like that.
When we engage with the practice of yoga here, we offer experiences that build strength and cultivate energy in the body, enhancing heat.
But we also really want to hold space for those Yin moments. Those slow, gentle movements. The reason why is because it’s activating our parasympathetic nervous system. It gets us out of that fight or flight into rest and digest mode, and it’s getting us into a space where all the anxieties are coming up. All the fears, all the questions.
We spend so much time avoiding those things, and that’s, in my belief, why those things are taking root and manifesting physically. In my instance, with tumors, there are indications that manifest emotionally and spiritually that provide us with an opportunity to respond before those things take physical form. We really want to hold space for that introspection and getting us out of our heads and into our bodies.
Ashley: You know, one thing that I love that you do is that, although at first glance, it might seem like people can really only be supported by Saffron and Sage who are local to you, you do so much for the larger global community as well. So just this morning, I was reading an article on your blog at saffronsageliving.com that was all about cultivating a morning ritual. So, there are things that you offer more to the global community as well.
I was wondering if you could tell people where they can connect with you online and how they can stay in touch on social?
Cristin: Absolutely. So, you can find us at saffronsageliving.com. You can subscribe to our newsletter, if you scroll down to the bottom of our website, you can add your email on there and you’ll get our blogs and recipes, and wellness tips delivered to your inbox. In addition to that, you can follow along and be a part of our online community on Instagram @saffronandsageus. We’re constantly doing tips and tricks, and really providing inspiration opportunities for connection.
You know, almost half of our services you can access virtually. From spirit direction, to our coaching, to a lot of our other services we do offer virtually. So, you can still connect with us from afar. There are so many different things. Also, our online store. We have a curated boutique where we have all of the beauty and body care products, skincare, makeup, housewares. Everything to help you detox. All of these products that we use on an everyday basis.
Ashley: Perfect. Cristin, thank you again so much for coming on today and sharing your wisdom and your journey with us here at Love & Light. I really appreciate it.
Cristin: You’re welcome! Thanks for having me.