When you first meet Anna Pogoda, you’re struck by how soft spoken she is. The creator and owner of Saltana Cave (the name is a play on the words salt and her own name) in Ridgefield, CT, Anna is at once calming and inspirational. We spoke to Anna about why she opened Saltana Cave, the healing power of salt, and why, as a successful female business owner, she’s content right where she is.
Anna, how did Saltana Cave come to be?
Approximately 8 years ago, we took a trip back to Poland. We experienced a simulated cave for approximately 10 sessions. I noticed that her asthma symptoms had decreased. When we returned to the U.S., I was very motivated to do more research on the benefits of salt and all the conditions that it can assist with, as far as easing symptoms. I came about the possibility of creating one right here in Ridgefield, CT.
Had you had any prior business experience?
None at all! [laughs] Except for family members back in Poland; everyone was a business owner.
How do you go from having a good idea to a full-fledged business?
There are different companies that specialize in building salt caves. So I found this lady, a doctor from Poland, who has built numerous salt caves throughout the U.S. So I worked with her and we collaborated to where we are today.
You opened Saltana Cave six years ago. What was the initial response from the public?
This was a very new concept in the United States. It took a lot of education on my part, and social media work, to create as much awareness in the community as possible. However, one of the best marketing tools is word of mouth. So once clients came in and experienced the salt cave for themselves, and either had better health results or experienced the deep relaxation, they became very open and shared it with other people.
What are some of the benefits of being in the cave? It’s certainly mystical, but it’s also therapeutic, too.
I always say that it’s a relaxation experience with health benefits. The salt particles being antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory, they help elevate symptoms relating to chronic lung conditions, sinus problems, allergies. So the inflammation in the body, the mucus-related conditions, can decrease, and people can breathe better. They can sleep better, and relax much more easily. Sometimes, they can just get a new sense of well-being.
I mentioned to you earlier how good it smells in here. It smells clean, but not in a bleachy kind of way, which is how some people associate cleanliness.
I think that’s how we’ve been trained for many years. Fortunately, there is a movement happening that is creating more awareness on the ingredients in some of these products. It’s helping people realize that clean doesn’t necessarily mean healthy.
We talked earlier about the actual salt on the floor. It’s not hard at all, and because it’s salt crystals, you might expect it to be jagged or rough, but that’s not the case.
As you walk on salt crystals, you get a feeling as if you’re receiving reflexology, because those crystals touch upon different points in your feet. Each point corresponds to a major organ in your body. Occasionally, I’ll hear from a client who feels pain or discomfort walking on the crystals. Whether they’re open to the Eastern medicine or not, I’m not sure. My understanding is that’s where the root cause comes from. The majority of clients like the sensation and tell me that it feels comfortable. It’s grounding; it’s connecting with earth.
Your daughter is 16. How is her asthma today?
She’s definitely doing much better now than she did when she was younger. However, salt therapy never cures any condition. It helps to elevate symptoms. So if you receive salt therapy on a regular basis, you’ll receive better results. Being a teenager, she’s going through her own growth. So she’s open to some things but not to others. So salt therapy doesn’t appeal to her at the moment, but she’ll come back to it.
Let’s talk a bit about a typical session.
I start the session with the sound of the crystal singing ball, setting up the stage for deep relaxation. We can have up to 8 clients at a time, so everyone comes with a different set of energies and experiences. Creating this peaceful element helps with how people feel. I think it still stays in you and it builds over time. Then, you listen to a narration about the healing power of salt, and then the music plays to help you feel totally relaxed.
Did you have to learn how to use the instruments?
I’m a musician, formally trained in violin and piano. So I have an understanding of rhythm and music and notes. But I did study sound healing and it opened up a new way of looking at music for me. It’s very liberating.
Your business is designed to help people feel better and connect with themselves. How do you do that for yourself?
Spending time with my daughter is super important to me. I fully become present when I’m with her, so I enjoy the time as much as I can. I love being in nature, so I go for a walk or go away on a mini vacation just to reconnect with myself and my own energy center. It’s made a huge difference for me and how I respond to life.
Do you have any plans to expand in the future, perhaps open a second cave?
I don’t. And the reason behind it is that I’ve learned over the years that having a balanced life and appreciating simplicity and creating that around you is super important instead of spreading yourself thin in a million different directions. I really enjoy what I do; I love offering this service to clients and seeing results. I’m really happy with where I am and I’m very satisfied — I have no other plans.