5 Cooling Practices to Tame the Fires of Pitta
Did you know that Pitta has five fires? In Ayurveda, the pitta dosha—being the elements of fire and water—has five fires or functions. These five forms of agni or fire all serve to provide or promote active transformation on some level in mind and body. These five fires are called Sadhaka (intelligence/light of the mind), Alochaka (sight/visual perception), Pachaka (digestive fire), Bhrajaka (lustre/glow of the skin) and Ranjaka (imparts healthy color to blood/liver/excretions).
These are the functions of pitta in the body and keeping the fires burning bright means keeping them from consuming everything in a blaze, or from becoming extinguished and lackluster. So we need to keep the pitta fires in balance with practices that contribute to the overall health of body and mind, especially in the summertime.
5 cooling, soothing practices for the 5 fires of pitta:
Balance Sadhaka Pitta (the mind)
Incorporate soothing meditations for the mind. Five minutes is better than none at all. Avoid negative, critical thoughts. Chant Om Namah Shivaya (I bow to my highest Self, my Innate Perfection). Pitta can be super critical of self and others and is always striving for perfection. This mantra brings peace to the mind and encourages self-acceptance and love.
Balance Alochaka Pitta (the sight)
Cooling colors, gemstones and visual scenery—waterfalls, meadows, lakes, rivers, ponds. Think greens, blues, aquas, and white. Use or wear gemstones such as moonstone, chrysoprase, serpentine, jade, opal, pearl. Avoid harsh, violent films and garish visuals and colors.
Harmonize Pachaka Pitta (The Digestive Fire)
Keep the digestive fire balanced with cooling foods in the summer such as: cucumbers, salads, fennel, coriander, coconut water, dandelion, rice, sweet fruits. Avoid spicy, pungent, sour, salty, processed and oily foods. Eat for your body type.
Soothe Bhrajaka Pitta (The skin)
Nourish the skin with aloe; coconut oil; Pitta face/body oil with mentha, artemisia, and rosewood; aromatic spritzers with rose, orange blossom, lavender, peppermint. Avoid sunburn, excess heat, oily foods and remember to drink enough fresh water.
Detox Ranjaka Pitta (The liver and blood)
Enjoy liver tonics and elixirs of bitter greens; fresh juicing; herbal teas of fennel, coriander, rose, dandelion, and neem. Avoid heavy, oily foods and processed, refined and chemically preserved foods.
Ayurvedic practices observed seasonally bring health to the body and mind and when preparing your practice for the summer. Be mindful of keeping the pitta fires in balance. All of them!
What Your Dosha Type Means for Your Diet
Ayurveda is Sanskrit for “the wisdom of life.” Ayurveda originated in India and pre-dates modern medicine by thousands of years.
Ayurveda healing differs from modern medicine in the following ways:
- Focuses on preventative techniques, instead of merely reacting to illness as it arises
- Diet and habits are more strongly considered when diagnosing and treating
- Emphasizes on the uniqueness of the individual and finding what works for you personally
Three Types of Ayurveda Doshas
There are three types of Ayurveda Doshas – kapha, pitta, and vata. Doshas are more commonly known as mind-body types and are derived from the five elements.
While we all have aspects of each of the three doshas, for most of us, there is one dosha that dominates. You can also be a combination of two doshas, but that is less frequent. Before you learn about the characteristics of each type of dosha, determine which one(s) are most pertinent to you by taking this quick quiz.
I took this quiz with a little bit of healthy skepticism, not expecting anyone dosha to be that much stronger than the others, but for me, the traits corresponding to vata dosha are twice as strong. There are several dosha quizzes online, all of which gave me similar results.
Once you determine which dosha pertains to you, read about the strengths and weaknesses of that dosha and what dietary changes you can make to keep yourself in better alignment. While this article focuses on dietary modifications, there are all sorts of supplements, lifestyle and yoga practices that are also beneficial.