Pitta, a word taken from the verb, Tapas (to heat) is often referred to as, "the fire that transforms" or in Sanskrit, "bile; that which digests things".
Pitta dosha is most dominant from 10 a.m.to 2 pm and then from 10 pm to 2 a.m. The warm and balmy Summer season is ruled by the pitta dosha and it's synergistic merge of fire and water manifests as hot, humid, bright, oily, light, expansive and liquid. These elements of summer also reflect in the body, mind and spirit. Energetically, Pitta is associated with the Anahata (Heart Chakra) and represents the force that digests everything we consume and experience, including emotions.
Pitta dominant types tend to be innately strong, intense, adventurous but can also be irritable and quick to anger. They are highly competitive by nature and are usually quite muscular and athletic in build. Naturally agile, they love extreme and intense sports such as Martial arts, boxing, rugby, football, surfing, rock climbing, snowboarding and mountain biking. They never back down from a challenge and are not afraid to try new things. Pittas light up a room with their presence and are the life of every party.
Pitta embodies that inner spark of creation that stokes the fire of manifestation.
The ancient vedic text, Charaka Samhita, describes Pitta's physical attributes as fair haired, red haired, little body hair and/or balding ; sharp, almond shaped, light coloured eyes, light toned, freckly, oily, sensitive skin prone to sunburns, rashes and acne. They have high metabolisms, strong digestion and lustful appetites for both food and life. They don't like missing a meal and can get quite grumpy and snappy when they are hungry. Mentally their eye is always on the prize!
When unbalanced, pitta is predisposed to stomach ulcers, acid reflux, irritable bowel issues, excess sweating, bad body odour, skin rashes, inflammation, insomnia, heart palpitations or arrhythmias. Their competitive nature makes them sore losers and they can be vengeful when they don't get their way. Their mind can become easily agitated, which often makes them openly highly emotional, nervous and fiery tempered.
Pittas are determined, goal oriented, strong willed and dedicated to their beliefs. They are fast learners and natural leaders that can quickly comprehend and master new skills and complex concepts. Exuding an innate sense of organisation, confidence and fearlessness in all the areas of life, naturally this dosha gravitates toward positions of high rank and power. They have an uncanny ability to meticulously see a task through to completion with an acute sense of detail. They are motivators and iconoclastic trendsetters, which make them interesting, fun and quite often quickly surrounded by an impromptu entourage of fans wherever they go.
The fire that burns...
The dark side to their fervent passion for life and solid devotion in undertaking all tasks is that they can become bossy, stubborn and narrow minded. An excess of Pitta can make them judgmental, impatient toward people that are slower to learn things and snidely narcissistic. Elevated Pitta can show up in the form of egoism, attention seeking behaviours and forceful, biased opinions.
What aggravates Pitta?
Pitta is at its height during the hot, humid days of the Summer season. Below is list of the most common pitta inciting culprits:
An unhealthy diet; consumption of processed, acidy, deep fried foods, dairy, trans fats or overly hot & spicy foods that increase Pitta gunas (pungent, sour, salty).
Consuming too many stimulants like coffee, tea, alcohol, sugar and nicotine.
Exposure to EMFs, radiation, chemicals and other toxins.
Too much sun or heat exposure.
Constant Stress and tension that stirs emotional flare-ups.
Overwork, constant deadlines and lack of proper rest.
Too much screen time on computers and devices: Constant use of tablets, mobile phones and social media activity.
Ways to Reduce Pitta:
Simple Lifestyle changes can help eradicate the fiery flames of Pitta.
You can pacify pitta by:
Dietary changes; Eat regular meals at the same time daily. Vegan and or Low carb diets with plenty of fresh veggies and greens work well for Pitta.
Incorporate food that is bitter, astringent, and sweet, which are opposites of Pitta. Consume more berries, apples, stone fruit, mangoes, melons, papaya. Add cooling vegetables and leafy greens to your plate like spinach, asparagus, cabbage, cucumber, cauliflower; Try grains like oatmeal, quinoa and rice. Include legumes: lentils, a variety of beans and dishes like Kitchari or Dahl to your diet. Almond milk can replace dairy milk but Ghee can be used sparingly. Choose soothing, anti inflammatory spices: Amalaki, mint, coriander, turmeric, cumin and fennel for cooking.
Soaked Almonds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds are a great to keep hunger pangs at bay.
Hydrate and drink sufficient water daily.
Take breaks and time away from the TV, your devices and limit screen time on social media.
Spend time in nature, walk outdoors and take in the fresh air but avoid being out during the hottest times of the day.
Try Hatha Yoga, Yin Yoga, Tai chi , Vipassana, Hoʻoponopono and Metta meditation techniques to soothe the mind and spirit.
Learn what your mental and emotional triggers are and work on mindfully controlling them.
Get adequate rest and carve out time for your favourite hobbies or relaxing activity daily.
Pitta benefits from daily exercise to burn off excess energy and heat. Swimming, long walks, restorative yoga and mindful meditation help to bring its scorching flames back down to a bright and peaceful smoulder. Yin yoga or Restorative yoga with longer holds and more emphasis on the breath, help Pitta prevent physical, emotional and mental burn out.
Yoga Poses like Balasana (Child's pose), Janu sirsasana ( head to knee pose), Parivrtta Prasarita Padottanasana ( revolved wide legged, standing forward bend) and Utthita Hasta Pandangusthasana (standing big toe hold) all help to temper Pitta's flames.
Cooling and calming Pranayama like Bhramari (bee's breath), Sitali (cooling breath) and Dirga Pranayama (3 part breath) help to slow the all consuming fires of this dosha both physically and energetically. Breathwork helps to restore the central nervous system and relax the entire body.
The breath is a powerful tool to alter and sustain a healthy, comfortable body temperature, adequate energy levels and cultivate mental clarity. These Ayurvedic lifestyle tips and practices should bring Pitta back into equilibrium and stability.
Learning the basics of Ayurveda ( Yoga's sister science), can change your life. Knowing your prakruti ( our inborn constitution) and vikruti (your current state of doshas that may deviate from our natural constitution) can help you heal, prevent disease and live in optimal wellness. I will posting more Pitta pacifying flows on my youtube channel: Raiza Red Yoga in Spring 2021, as part of my "Elemental Yoga :Pancha Bhoota" series.
For more on doshas and Ayurvedic living, subscribe to receive my free Dosha test!
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More Pitta Pacifying Yogic Practices to come,
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