New to Ayurveda? Check out my Intro to Ayurveda blog to discover your dosha.
Pitta is our inner fire. It governs digestion, metabolism, and energy production. Its primary function is transformation. Those with a pitta dosha have a fiery nature.
Qualities of Pitta:
Pitta is fire and water.
If pitta dosha predominates in your life, you are probably goal-oriented and always striving to achieve. You typically accomplish your goals but sometimes this inner fire can make you seem standoffish, angry or hot-tempered.
Remember, most people are composed of two different dosha. Very few people are tri-doshic and very few people only have one dosha.
Becoming Unbalanced – A Normal Part of Life
Being unbalanced is part of living a normal, healthy life.
Physically, people with high amounts of pitta are average size, have a muscular and athletic body and can either gain or lose weight easily. They have a naturally warm body temperature and sweat profusely. They are energetic but their energy is different than vata energy. Vata energy is erratic and all over the place. Pitta energy is focused and driven.
Pittas are HUNGRY! They have excellent digestion and prefer to eat several meals throughout the day. In fact, if a pitta doesn’t eat, he/she can become irritable and even sick.
When pitta dosa becomes unbalanced, it may manifest as inflammation, infections, frustration, anger, and over aggressiveness. They may suffer from acne or allergic prone skin, skin rashes, ulcers, heartburn and indigestion.
Mentally, pitta personalities are sharp minded, intelligent and ambitious. They are very self-motivated, make great decision makers, speakers and teachers. They are direct and often outspoken.
Unbalanced pitta energy can be very controlling. They like things to fit in specific boxes and can become agitated and angry if things don’t go according to plan. Unbalanced, pitta energy is hot, angry and frustrated.
Personally, when my pitta is unbalanced I have high anxiety. Not a fearful anxiety like vatas experience, but an anxiety that I have to work harder and put all other commitments and people to the side. At times, this can be beneficial because I usually accomplish my goals. However, I have to be very mindful that I spend time with my friends and family and calm my inner fire. I’ve been known to lash out in frustration when my husband wants to take me on an unplanned date.
How to Balance Pitta
When pitta is out of balance, it can feel like a fire is burning within. Your digestion may become fire-y (e.g., diarrhea). Our goal is to calm the flames (not put them out!) and find balance through nutrition and yoga practices that are cooling, sweet and stabilizing.
Take time to slow down, breath deeply, and see life through another person’s eyes. Life does not fit into simple boxes. We cannot control everything. Using meditation and yoga to deal with the chaos of life is an important tool for a pitta person.
Since pitta is hot, sharp, oily and mobile (or constantly changing), balance pitta by making cooling and soothing choices to calm the inner fire. Go on a vacation to the beach (water is cooling), treat yourself to a massage, take a soothing, cooling bath. Avoid people and situations that anger or frustrate you.
Spend time in nature. Go for a walk, keep plants and fresh flowers in your home and office.
Balance rest and activity. Allow yourself some free time everyday. Pittas are known to be work-a-holics.
Engage in creative activities. Pittas easily get stuck in the boxes they create for themselves. Creative activities will get you out of the rut and allow your mind to expand.
Take an UNPLANNED vacation. This sentence just caused great anxiety in some pittas. ? Let life take you on an adventure and learn to go with the flow.
According to Ayurveda, it’s important to eat foods that have a balancing effect on pitta to help stabilize the dosha when it’s excessive or aggravated. Since pitta is hot, sharp and pungent, you should eat foods that are sweet, bitter and cool.
The best tastes to stabilize pitta dosha are astringent, bitter and a little bit sweet. Minimize foods that are spicy, salty or pungent (like garlic and onion).
Healthy oils in moderation are beneficial to the pitta digestive system. Choose cooling oils like coconut, sunflower, olive and ghee.
Use spices that pacify pitta including cilantro, saffron, fennel, mint, cardamom, turmeric, coriander, and nutmeg. Avoid spices that aggravate pitta including cayenne, onion, ginger, garlic and salt.
Avoid eating super hot foods and drinks. Allow your food to cool slightly to avoid overheating. (Some pittas will actually prefer lukewarm foods instead of super hot temperature foods because of their internal heat.)
Avoid COLD food and drink. Even though pittas are hot, we never drink or eat cold foods like ice water or ice cream. These will put out the digestive fire leading to lethargy and slow digestion. Choose cool foods and drinks, but not cold.
Avoid alcohol, friend food, coffee and red meat. All of these increase pitta.
Breathing practices and yoga classes should focus on stimulating digestion with calming and centering poses. Pittas like to move! At the end of the work day, get pitta’s moving to burn off some of their excess fire but allow plenty of time for calming and cooling work to bring them into balance. Avoid hot yoga. Pittas may love hot yoga but it can cause them to overheat.
Pranayama practices should include relaxed and cooling breaths like sitali and sitkari.
Meditation techniques for pitta dosha should focus on visualization techniques. The pitta dosha lives in the eyes and pittas are usually great at visualizing and learning through reading and other visuals.
Discover ways to experience balance in all areas of your life at my Intro To Ayurveda Workshop in Module 1 of our 300-hour advanced yoga teacher training.
- Identify your dosha and it's qualities
- Learn what foods best support your dosha for a balanced life
- Experience yoga practices and lifestyle routines best suited for your dosha
- Refine your digestion for a more comfortable life
- Receive recipes and learn how to cook for your dosha
Lunch is included! Prepare and enjoy an ayurvedic meal together - including ghee (the yogi's healing cure-all) and kitchari (the yogic "stew" for resetting oneself when out of balance).
This class is one day of Camp Utopia's 300-hour advanced yoga teacher training. If you're interested in becoming a 500 hour yoga teacher, visit the website for more details.