The Truth About Pumpkin Spice

In West Virginia, we get to experience the glory of all four seasons. Even if we favor one and complain about another, we have to admit that each is beautiful in its own way. Yet the transitions from one to another can sometimes wreak havoc on our bodies, especially if we’re not armed with the knowledge and the tools to make those transitions smoother.

Each season has its own qualities. Summer, which will be over in a matter of days, is hot, sharp, bright, oily, and humid. Fall is cool, light, dry, rough, windy, and clear. Winter is cool, very dry, light, rough, hard, clear and mobile. Spring is heavy, oily, damp, slow, cloudy and stable. If we want to create balance in the body and mind, we can do so by eating and engaging in activities that bring balance to the dominant qualities of each season.

But first, it’s important to take time to release the qualities of the previous season that have accumulated in our bodies. Because of the sharp contrasts between summer and fall and between winter and spring, these two times of year are the most important times to consider a cleanse.

Some people cower at the word “cleanse,” and with good reason. All too often, that word is associated with very aggressive or restrictive programs that deplete the body. By contrast, a simple ayurvedic cleanse is all about nourishing the body and the mind. An ayurvedic cleanse can be anything from a one-day digestive reset to a 21-day mind/body retreat.

This fall, I’ve decided to lead, for the first time ever, a simple 7-day ayurvedic cleanse designed to help us release the heat and humidity of summer so that we can approach the cool, dry conditions of fall free from congestion, with a bolstered immune system and improved digestion.

So what does this cleanse entail? Two to three days of “easing in:” eliminating foods and beverages that commonly cause an exacerbation of digestive and immune issues. Two to three days of a “mono-diet” consisting mostly of an easy-to-digest, traditional ayurvedic dish known as “kichari,” a blend of rice, beans, and spices that bring balance to the body and mind. Then two days of “easing out,” gradually returning to a normal, but hopefully healthier, diet.

During this time, we’ll be taking plenty of time for rest and relaxation, which allow your body’s energy to feed the deep tissue layers and nervous system. We’ll also learn practices like self-massage, which helps loosen impurities and stimulate your lymphatic system (your main line for detox).  

How do you know if you should cleanse? Well, we can all use it now at the change of seasons, but if you’re experiencing any of the following, you should seriously consider joining us: sinus congestion, acid indigestion, puffiness/water retention, red skin inflammation, irritability, gas or bloating, diarrhea, constipation, dry skin, anxiety, achiness, lethargy, brain fog.

Autumn Reset” starts on September 30th. It’s open to everyone and free to Body Wisdom members. Because I’ll be providing you with supplies like kichari ingredients and oils for self-massage, registration for Autumn Reset will end on September 24th so that I have time to order and receive your supplies. The best part about this cleanse is that you won’t be doing it alone. You’ll have the support and guidance of the other members of the group to lean into if you need it.

So what about “pumpkin spice?” Where does it fit in to this discussion?

According to Ayurveda, the holistic wellness system known as yoga’s “sister science,” one of the easiest ways we can bring balance to the body and mind is by eating foods that are in season and cooking with herbs and spices that have qualities that are opposite to the season. Pumpkin spice fulfills both those recommendations. Pumpkins are in season in the fall, and the spices (specifically cinnamon, ginger, and cloves) are warming spices that complement the coolness of the season.  

The problem with the ubiquitousness of pumpkin spice is that it’s almost always full of artificial flavors and refined sugar. So if you’re a fan of pumpkin spice, stick to the real stuff and sweeten with raw honey or pure maple syrup!

If you’d like to learn more ways to support your body and mind this season, register for “Seasonal Thrive!” I’m teaming up with Stacey Fox and Paula Hatten to teach you how to use Ayurveda, yoga, and essential oils to thrive through autumn. Stacey and Paula have both emerged as mentors in the Body Wisdom group. We refer to Stacey as “Siri” because of her encyclopedic knowledge and spot-on advice. Paula is a board certified counselor and our resident DoTerra guru.

If you register for Seasonal Thrive!, you’ll receive $6 off Autumn Reset. (Just email me at for an invoice.)

I truly hope you’ll consider joining us for both. My goal in everything I do, whether it’s teaching a drop-in yoga class or working with my long-term Body Wisdom members, is to help you learn more about yourself so that you can feel your best year-round.

See you at the studio!