In my last few posts, we’ve been delving into Ayurveda to help to give you an introduction to this incredible healing system. Not sure what Ayurveda is and how it works? This blog post on Ayurvedic constitutions is a great place to start to get an overview of the need-to-know basics.
Now, after covering Vata Dosha in more detail in my last post, it’s time to dive into the second of the three Doshas–Pitta.
The elements Fire and Water make up Pitta Dosha and this defines the mental and physical characteristics of people belonging to this group. Similar to fire and water energies, the characteristics of Pittas are fiery, sharp, liquid, oily and light.
Generally speaking, Pitta is in charge of transformation in the body. By this, I mean everything related to digestion, metabolism and nutrient absorption. For example, Pitta is present in your body as digestive enzymes that help to break down food and in your liver as bile. Pitta is also responsible for appetite, thirst, body temperature, eyesight and intelligence, to name a few.
You might be wondering how these characteristics translate to mental and physical characteristics you can see in yourself or someone you know. Let’s take a look at that now.
Driven, sharp, motivated–these are all words that spring to mind when you think of Pitta. They are drawn to achievements, hence why they may find themselves working or participating in business, law, science, sport and fitness. Competitive, intense sports are particularly appealing for Pittas; boot camps and marathons are their jam!
Put a Pitta in an organized and structured environment and they will likely thrive. Pittas often find themselves naturally drawn to leadership roles and feel at home in the role of boss, CEO or manager. They are the ones of us with a well-structured, but often very long, to-do list full of tasks they enjoy ticking off one by one. Whatever they’re doing, they prefer to work through the task at hand methodically and don’t like to move onto a new task until a task is fully complete. In general, Pittas love to organize their life and may well have their entire week (or month!) planned out to the last detail well in advance.
Physically Pittas tend to be of medium-build and naturally athletic. It’s almost as if they can put on muscle without even working out! But they usually enjoy working out and it helps them release the fire energy within them that’s just waiting to be released. They tend to really love the feeling of being physically exhausted and using their body and muscles.
Remember all that fire energy that is present in Pitta? Well, it makes sense that they often feel warm and even have a tendency to overheat easily and sweat a lot. They normally do better in cool weather and may burn easily in the sun. Pitta skin and hair has a tendency to be oily and they can be prone to breakouts. Like their sharp minds, they can have sharp features and a penetrating gaze.
What about their digestion? Pittas can find themselves blessed with a strong digestion and good appetite. On the flipside, they need regular meals and might get 'hangry' if they skip a meal.
Of course, these are just some examples of how Pitta could manifests. To find out more, book a discovery call with me.
All that fiery energy is great for helping Pittas do and achieve all the things they want to do and achieve, but when it becomes too much it can result in imbalance. One way this can show up is as inflammation on the skin in the form of rashes and acne. In terms of digestion, while balanced Pitta results in a strong digestion, imbalance can look like acid reflux, heartburn, stomach ulcers, hyperacidity and diarrhea.
Pitta’s can feel hot all the time, struggle to cool down and sweat profusely. They also tend to get really thirsty due to the heat in their bodies! Premature graying hair and balding, poor eyesight, excess bile, liver malfunctions, light sensitivity and yellow eyes or skin are also symptoms of Pitta imbalance.
The fire in Pitta’s bodies can transform into fire in their minds and this can manifest as anger and impatience, which is essentially an inability to cool down. This could come out in situations such as when others don’t do things the way they want, or tasks take too long to carry out. They can have a tendency to be controlling, demanding and impatient with others who don’t live up to the high standards they expect. But it’s probably themselves they are the hardest on and can find themselves with perfectionist tendencies.
If they don’t learn when to say ‘enough is enough’, they can easily find themselves burning out. Pitta’s intensity and their driven, motivated nature can result in overworking, not sleeping enough and working out too intensely as they can have a hard time knowing when to stop. And when to rest. Burnout could be another result of this overachieving and go-go-go nature.
You don’t have to have dominant Pitta energy to relate to some of these imbalances. The truth is, we all have Pitta days and moments in our lives. Do you ever have moments when you’re riding on the high of completing tasks and tackling your to-do list like a pro? That’s Pitta energy, through and through! But keeping going at this non-stop pace is a one-way road to exhaustion and potential burnout. So we all need to remember to put the breaks on now and again, whether you’re Pitta or not.
Top tips for balancing Pitta
To pacify your Pitta or reduce your Pitta energy, you need to focus on slowing down and cooling down. Pitta energy is fiery so, according to Ayurveda, diet and lifestyle tips for bringing more balance into your life are centered on cooling and chilling their minds and bodies.
Balancing Pitta with food
To balance out the liquid and fiery nature of Pittas, you need foods of the opposite qualities: sweet, bitter and cooling. Eating these kinds of foods can help to regain balance by balancing out the hot, oily, sharp and pungent qualities of Pitta.
Here are some top tips for balancing Pitta:
Sweet fruits such as grapes, coconut, berries, pomegranate and apples are best for Pittas. Sour and acidic fruits like grapefruits and lemons should be enjoyed in moderation.
Both raw and cooked vegetables work for Pitta but raw vegetables are best enjoyed at noon when the digestive system is strongest.
Pungent, spicy and sharp vegetables like garlic, chiles and onions should be eaten occasionally or avoided.
Sweet, bitter and astringent vegetables like leafy greens, sweet potatoes, broccoli, zucchini, avocado, lettuce, cucumber are great for Pitta.
Grains are Pitta’s friend; they’re great fuel for their active bodies. Cooling, drying or grounding grains like wheat, basmati rice, oats, spelt and quinoa are good options.
Legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, tofu, mung beans, adzuki beans, tempeh and black beans have cooling qualities so are wonderful to add into your diet.
Ghee (clarified butter), whole milk, paneer, cottage cheese, goat’s milk products and yogurt are the easiest-to-digest dairy products.
A vegetarian diet is great for Pittas as animal products can heat the body. Pittas do better with white meat rather than red meat.
Natural sweeteners like maple syrup or unrefined sugar in moderation can help balance Pittas. Too much can be heating and aggravating.
Overly spicy foods can stimulate Pitta’s internal fire so should be enjoyed in moderation. Cooling herbs like mint, parsley, coriander, fennel and basil are wonderful options.
Of course, these are general principles that don't necessarily apply to everyone. It is recommended to get a personalized assessment to be sure that it best fits your current state of health and digestion.
Balancing Pitta with lifestyle habits
By now you know that Pittas love structure, routine and organization. They also like control and they love pushing themselves to the limit. But the flipside of this is that they can end up having little sense of flow or spontaneity in their lives as everything is planned to the last detail. What’s the way to counterbalance this? Chilling out and cooling down with lifestyle practices.
Tension in the body accumulates as heat, which can cause issues like acne and acidity. Pent-up heat can also manifest as rage and impatience that erupt at the worst moments (hello, road rage!). Pitta’s can come back into balance by learning how to release this stored anger in a more constructive way. For example, dancing, exercising or even signing loudly in the shower. Just let it out! You can also practice calming activities such as yoga, tai chi and meditation. Pittas need to set aside designated time for self-care and fun to balance out their overachieving nature and remember that it’s just as important as being productive. Spending time with loved ones, being in nature and reading books are great things to add to your schedule.
Pittas might become annoyed in the heat, so opting for airy clothes and organic cotton are a great idea. You can stabilize your body temperature by minimizing time in direct sunlight, particularly the harsh midday heat. Try to do exercise in the morning before it gets too hot and you overheat. Feeling angry or irritable? Taking a walk outside or going for a swim (preferably not when it’s super hot) can help to cool you down. Water and trees are particularly cooling for Pittas so beach or forest trips are a great idea!
Do you know that person who’s all about holding the poses the longest and pushing themselves beyond their capabilities in a yoga class? That’s Pitta energy right there! Yin yoga is better suited for Pittas than vinyasa or hot yoga. Why? Yin is not at all about performance and is instead about letting go and allowing the tension in your body to release. This is great to help make Pitta’s tight muscles more flexible. See if you can find a yin class locally or explore the many online options there are these days.
It can be a little tough for Pittas to meditate. Why? Because they find it hard to switch off from their to-do list and their next big idea. Their mind is a busy place! Pittas can even be resistant to meditation as they don’t see the point. Like, what’s the outcome? Meditation can be hugely beneficial for Pittas but they need to experience it for themselves to believe it as there isn’t a spreadsheet to prove its worth to them. Once they do try it, it can be quite life-changing and they might find themselves falling in love with it when they see that it creates space in their minds and enables them to be more effective and deliberate in everything they do.
Do you think you might be Pitta?
After reading all this, do you feel like you might be Pitta? Or perhaps have some Pitta imbalances at the moment? Or maybe none of this doesn’t resonate with you at all and you’re more Vata or Kapha? You can read more about Vata Dosha here and Kapha in the next post.
Whichever Prakriti you are, understanding the role of each Dosha can help you to bring more balance and harmony into your life. This is exactly what I can help you with with my Ayurvedic coaching. First step? Book a free discovery call with me to find out more. I can’t wait to help you uncover your Prakriti and enhance your wellbeing as a result.