Saffron & Sage founder, Cristin Smith, sat down with Ava Pendl onTuesday January 30, 2018 to learn more about her personal passions, seasonal rituals, self care techniques and what led her to Saffron & Sage.
Cristin: What is your specialty at Saffron & Sage?
Ava: I am one of our yoga practitioners at Saffron & Sage specializing in the integration of strengthening yoga postures and restorative postures from the Yin Yoga series. Much of what you will learn in my classes combines poses that strengthen the core and legs while also helping us tap into our feminine side by slowing things down with seated poses that we hold for longer periods of time.
Cristin: What's your background?
Ava: Born and raised in LA, I've always had the hustle within me. I didn't graduate high school and go immediately into college, instead, I took a full-time job at a restaurant and worked on transitioning from hospitality into a desk job thinking that would make me happy. After seven years of the corporate world, I realized money and stability weren't the answers to my happiness. Rather, it was finding a community, creating meaningful relationships and filling my days with the activities and people that meant most to me. I consider myself a "corporate drop-out" because I left my job a year ago and have been pursuing a career in the wellness industry since then. Most of my days are filled with yoga, walks with my dog and connecting with other conscious-minded folks.
Cristin: What drew you to this work?
Ava: I remember the day vividly when I decided I wanted to teach yoga. I had just finished a Vinyasa class and was laying in savasana (Sanskrit for corpse pose, this is our final posture of all classes), I thought to myself, "I want to make people feel as good as I feel now" and from then on I pursued the art and education of teaching yoga as a healing modality for the mind, body and spirit.
Cristin: Tell us about the type of yoga you offer at Saffron & Sage?
Ava: All of the classes I teach at Saffron & Sage are perfect for any level as we move through a variety of sequences that have modifications and peak poses for the beginner yogi or most advanced. The Yin/Yang class was designed with 9-to-5ers in mind looking for a quick escape from the office on their lunch break - while avoiding a heavy sweat. Although, this class is great for anyone that can make it at noon! The class provides just enough build up of energy to keep momentum going throughout your afternoon, while also providing an opportunity to connect back to your breath, slow your thoughts down, and tune into what's going on inside. This class is perfect for cultivating a relationship with the Self and strengthening your intuition. My Wednesday morning 9am Energizing class is the perfect humpday pick me up to keep you motivated throughout the week and follows the traditional Vinyasa breath-to-movement flows that are accessible to any level.
It's important to know that yoga itself is an art and a practice, and asana (the physical poses) is just one element. You can be breathing and still be doing yoga! In my classes, I really encourage and honor students to step into their own creative expression on the mat in whatever way that serves them most whether it is more restorative or more strength building. If it feels good in the body and soul, it is good!
Cristin: What drew you to the work you are doing today?
Ava: I love creating community and making people feel good. It makes me happy and fulfills a lot of self worth issues I dealt with as a teen. Teaching yoga and connecting with individuals that want to change their lives gives me so much purpose and I can't think of any better way to serve this world than continue to spread these gifts to as many people as possible.
Cristin: Why did you choose to be a practitioner at Saffron & Sage?
Ava: Saffron & Sage is all about cultivating community. Whether it is yoga classes or gatherings, there is a tangible energy in the air that you don't really feel anywhere else in San Diego.
Cristin: What is your favorite part about being apart of Saffron & Sage?
Ava: I love everyone that steps foot inside of Saffron & Sage because you can tell that they want so badly to bring change to their lives and the lives of others. From connecting before yoga or attending a new moon circle together, the community feeling is like a warm fuzzy blanket of incredible souls.
Cristin: What does life look like for you?
Ava: Although I dropped out of my desk job, I am still quite the workaholic. I live in Ocean Beach with my fiance and dog, Penny, and work from home, hustling, Monday-Sunday - but, it doesn't feel like work because it is my passion! I have built a brand, Kicking Asana, on social media that takes up most of my time - whether it is taking photos around San Diego, attending events, or building resources for people online - and focus each and every day on how I can continue to bring wellness to this world in a way that is accessible and relatable.
Cristin: For those that dont know, you recently shared some big news, tell us whats been happening?
Ava: I am recently engaged to the love of my life! He proposed when my family from Canada was visiting under the Ocean Beach Pier where I first forced him out into the ocean with me. He is my best friend and partner in crime (Okay, partner in late-night ice cream runs) and I am so grateful to have found my other half. On a career level, outside of teaching at Saffron & Sage I recently released my first course ever to help other wellness professionals learn the ropes of marketing and building a brand online. It has been so much fun to connect with other wellness professionals, bring my "corporate drop-out" expertise to the table, and build brands that are going to change our world!
Cristin: What aspect of holistic health are you focused on in this season of your life?
Ava: Tuning in and slowing down while trusting myself and what comes up when I dig deeper. We often second guess ourselves and live with regrets and I just don't want that for myself anymore. I am all about getting comfortable in the uncomfortable because I believe that is how we grow. I never push myself to act a certain way, eat a certain way, or do something because that is what everyone else in the wellness world is doing. I believe that when it is the right time, the action will come, so being gentle with myself is another huge shift I've made during this season of my life.
Cristin: How are you nourishing your body this season? teas, tonics, superfoods, juices, etc.
Ava: I have been loving Suja Juice lately because their green juices are amazing and packed with all the veggies you need. I also take baths with the Little Barn Bath Milk and get massages regularly.
Cristin: What's your go-to winter self care ritual?
Ava: I try to be very deliberate and intentional with all my practices, regardless of the season. I follow what feels best in my own body and try lots of different techniques until I find those that work best for me. For example, in the winter I try to take baths at least once a week to warm up my body, disconnect from the outside world, and just be with myself. I am not very rigid with self-care because I find that the more I try to impose a "ritual" on myself, the more it feels like a chore. My biggest tip is to just follow what feels good for yourself and know that you are doing it right when you feel satisfied with your activities or rituals.
Cristin: What treatment do you get monthly at Saffron & Sage and why?
Ava: Acupuncture and cupping is my GO-TO! Often we have so much underlying energy stored within us from past events or experiences that we don't even know about. With acupuncture and cupping, it all gets released and that has been a huge game changer for me, whether it be releasing physical tension of emotional.
Cristin: What are your go-to essential oils right now and why?
Ava: Deep blue by doTerra is my favorite because it makes my muscles feel oh-so loved.
Cristin: What is the most rewarding aspect of what you do?
Ava: Going back to that feeling I felt in savasana when I decided that I wanted to become a yoga teacher, when anyone comes up to me after class and says they feel amazing, I am practically jumping with joy. I swear, that statement alone is enough to make my entire week.
Cristin: What is your desire for your saffrons taking your classes in the studio?
Ava: Come with an open mind and try as many things as you can. There are so many talented practitioners at Saffron & Sage that I am so lucky to work with and receive services from, my wish is that as many people as possible are able to experience all of the offerings that Saffron & Sage provides the community of San Diego.
Cristin: Tonight, we're exploring the art of intention setting with alli in the gathering room, what are a few of the intentions you've set for yourself for 2018?
Ava: My number one intention for 2018 is to follow my intuition and how I feel in every aspect of life. If it isn't a hell yeah! I can't give my energy to it because my energy and my time is too precious to waste on things that don't push me closer to my true north.
Cristin: For those that are new to holistic healthcare, how would you encourage them to begin their journey?
Ava: Start where you are and do what you can. Again, don't push things on yourself because someone on Instagram says so. Try as many things as possible and only do what feels good in your body. We are all fundamentally different on a molecular level, so some things will resonate and some will not. Trust that you know yourself better than anyone else and you'll find all the answers you need.
Cristin: What are you most excited about where s&s is going or what Saffron & Sage is doing in 2018?
Ava: I can't wait to see the events we continue to offer in our gathering and studio space including a few masterclasses in the workings with well-known yogis!
Cristin: Anything new coming up that we should know about?
Ava: If you haven't been to Saffron & Sage yet for a yoga class, your first class is on me! Use code AVAGUEST when you save your spot to take your first class for free.