Pitta is one of three main “doshas” in Ayurveda. In a way, it’s kind of like an ancient system of understanding (and working with) your body and personality type. The combining of the physical and energy bodies.
If Ayurveda medicine is new to you, you’re not alone. This sister science to Yoga, is a 5,000-year-old health system and is one of the oldest forms of medicinal practices in the world. It’s derived from the Vedic texts of India and focuses on bringing the body, mind and spirit back into balance by utilising holistic daily practices, diet and other natural approaches.
What Are Doshas?
To understand dosha basics, we first have to see how Ayurveda classifies the elements of the universe, including what we’re all made of. These include:
- Ether (space)
The idea is that every person is made of a personalized, unique mix of the three primary doshas, which come from the elements. They are:
- Vata dosha (ether/space + air)
- Pitta dosha (fire + water)
- Kapha dosha (water + earth)
And here’s where things get fun. Every person tends to be more dominant in one dosha. That primary dosha will also be the one that’s most likely to come out of balance, threatening our mental and physical health.
We’re all a unique mix of all three doshas, but in this article we’re going to focus on better understanding and balancing and increase in pitta.
In Ayurveda, “like increases like.” That means that pitta types need to work extra hard to stay in balance during the pitta time of year, which is summer. For instance, summer’s hot qualities can initially make the Pitta dosha feel at home, but over time, easily overheat pitta’s already fiery constitution, especially if a pitta person eats lots of heating foods during the pitta summer time of year. In Ayurveda, opposites are used to create a balancing pitta dosha lifestyle.
What are the symptoms of pitta dosha? According to the Himalayan Institute, when pitta is in balance, it is in charge of healthy digestion, immunity and enzymatic processes. However, a pitta imbalance, also known as high pitta, could lead to symptoms that include:
- Joint pain
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Heavy periods
Ayurveda gives us a time-tested approach to help bring things back into balance.
Take this quiz to determine your dosha: What’s Your Ayurvedic Body Type?
What Is Pitta Dosha?
What does pitta dosha mean? To better understand pitta, we’ll first take a look at physical characteristics we’re born with, mental characteristics associated with pitta types and explores the health issues that can arise if you’re living with excess pitta.
Find yourself asking, “How can I overcome Pitta Dosha?” Perhaps a better way to look at it is not how to overcome it, but rather work with your dosha naturally to create more harmony in the mind and body.
Physical Characteristics (Pitta Body Type)
High pitta people tend exhibit these physical characteristics, also known as pitta body type:
- More mesomorphic, muscular, medium build
- Medium weight
- Oilier skin prone to breakouts
- “Run hot” and sweat easily
- Intense stare
- Oilier hair that tends to gray earlier
- Strong and fast digestion
Emotional and Personality Characteristics
Some pitta dosha qualities include being:
- Direct/Great communicator
When in balance, the pitta type seems like they’re on top of the world. In fact, many pitta types go on to become CEOs or land in other positions of leadership because of their strong drive, focus, concentration and competitiveness.
But Banyan Botanicals outlines signs of excess pitta to watch out for. Imbalances of pitta dosha symptoms can be quite intense. When pitta’s out of balance and running too high, a pitta type experience, among other things:
- Argumentative personality
- Yellowish coating on tongue
- Insatiable hunger and/or thirst
- Tenderness in breasts
- Bloodshot or yellow tinge in eyes
Chronic imbalance in pitta can actually harm longevity and lead to accelerated aging.
Pitta Balancing lifestyle
Pitta people have a high metabolism characterized by heat and sharpness. They are intelligent and effective problem solvers. They are goal-oriented individuals and often successful in their pursuits.
However, sometimes Pitta individuals are intense, and their direct and effective communication skills can be mistaken as confrontational. They may be irritable, easily angered, or frustrated. Their criticism is often directed at themselves and those closest to them, which may disrupt relationships. Their pride is easily wounded. They often push their bodies and relationships beyond their limits. There are all characteristics of too much heat/Pitta element in the body.
How do we bring balance?
To bring themselves into balance, Pitta people must avoid bullying their body and soften into it. They must stop working when tired, stop running or exercising when strained, and stop thinking or fighting when their mind needs a rest. Many Pitta individuals appear perfect on the outside, with limitless endurance. But their hypervigilance quickly burns up their biological resources, especially their adrenals and nervous system. Pitta must restore calm and pace their intense ambitions for the long haul. Burning the midnight oil is incredibly tempting for them, as its so easily done but ideally Pitta should head to bed with the lights out by 11pm.
Pitta should allow grace and softness
Pitta’s sharp quality leads them to hyper-focus/fixate. They forget to give themselves space and time for creative solutions, and miss the bigger picture perspective. They often take control of situations and engineer their own solutions – at great personal investment of energy and time. Instead, Pitta should allow grace and softness to operate continuously in their lives and relationships. They need to learn to trust that time will lead to the answers.
Contemplative practices are especially attractive to the Pitta mind. However, they should turn their attention towards leisure and other less mental activities instead. Pitta needs time to breathe. They should get outside for some fresh air or make time and space for idle pursuits. The natural world provides an example of the effortless perfection that Pitta needs and craves. Pitta is nourished by sweetness, affection, and nurturing. They should cultivate this sweetness from within by giving sweet gifts to others and to themselves.
When faced with obstacles, Pitta should treat themselves to relaxing, soothing practices such as marma massage and touch therapy, where they can finally let go and allow their creative non-linear side to provide the answers.
Pitta people are irritable and may become quickly angry or frustrated. To overcome this anger they must cultivate true humility and the ability learn new approaches from others who are radically different from themselves. Sãdhanã (spiritual practice) including pranayama and dhyãna (breath work and meditation)
Pitta Balancing diet
Pittas digestive fire is as intense and their mental one. They have a strong appetite. Pitta people can’t wait when they are hungry or they will become angry and upset. Failure to eat on time can also irritate their digestive tract because they often produce too many digestive enzymes.
As a Pitta you should avoid alcohol, excess spices, and other digestive irritants like coffee. Sour and salty foods encourage the release of hot, irritating digestive fluids, including hydrochloric acid and bile. Pungent foods increase heart rate and blood flow and can make you feel hot under the collar. Strong aromatic herbs like mint, or vasodilators like turmeric, can make your body and your digestion too hot. These foods will also exhaust your liver due to excessive blood flow.
Cooling foods such as cucumber, plant milk, pears, and honeydew melon soothe inflamed Pitta membranes. Bitter greens like kale, collards, and red leaf lettuce can literally cool your temper as they draw heat and blood back downward from the head. After eating bitters such as these, you may notice that your eyes feel more relaxed and refreshed. Astringent foods such as legumes, raw veggies, and dried fruit can absorb and dry up Pitta’s excess acids and fluids. Astringents also reduce inflammation and irritation.
Like Vata, Pitta also benefits from sweet foods like sweet potato, whole grains, and animal products. These heavier foods satisfy Pitta’s strong appetite and can lull Pitta away from their ambitious nature. Sweet taste also soothes their internal inflammation.
Pitta individuals have sensitive livers. For this reason, Pitta should avoid fried foods and poor quality oils that overstimulate the liver. Instead, cook with coconut oil and ghee. Blueberries and strawberries are ideal to nourish your liver. Cooling bitters can also cleanse your liver. You may find your liver is sensitive to nightshades such as tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers, or foods with aflotoxins like peanuts and corn. Fermented foods are heating and irritating to the gut, and may also overtax the liver.
Pitta, paradoxically, often has weak digestion due to inflammation of their GI tract. Cooling spices like cilantro, fresh ginger, cardamom, and fennel will improve Pitta indigestion without creating the heat of other, hotter spices like cayenne, black pepper, and cinnamon. These cooling spices will also please Pitta’s palate. Pitta people are often determined to succeed, which can include eating their perfect diet. Pitta’s vigilance, however, can lead to orthorexia – characterized by overly strict adherence to their diet. Ultimately, suppression of instincts works against Pitta, leaving them confused. Instead, Pitta people need to take a relaxed approach, even with their diet. Rather than strictly following the rules of their mind, they need a more body-centric approach. They must cultivate the ability to listen to their body and follow their internal cravings.
If you don’t know your body type yet, take the quiz here to find out. If you do know your body type, use these resources to balance Pitta:
Pitta Reducing Recipe
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 1/3 cup coriander (cilantro)
- 2 tbsp ghee
- 1/3 cup coconut flakes
- 1 tsp of ginger paste
- 1/2 cup mung beans
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 6 cups water
Wash the mung dal and rice separately. Soak the mung dal for a few hours if you have the time, then drain. Put the ginger, coconut, cilantro and the 1/2c water into a food processor and blend until liquefied. Heat the ghee on medium in a large saucepan and add the blended items, turmeric and salt. Stir well and bring to a boil to release the flavor. Next mix in the rice, mung dal and the six cups of water. Return to a boil. Boil, uncovered, for five minutes. Then cover, leaving the lid slightly ajar. Turn down the heat to simmer and cook for 25-30 minutes, until the dal and rice are tender.
I hope this article has given you a useful insight into your dosha, and if you would like more information or support in bringing your mind/body/soul back into union, please leave a comment or drop me a message on the contact page.