Yoga For Your Doshas: Pitta
It’s one of those days: You had a project due at work and even though everything was going according to plan, someone had to take it a different direction at the last minute. Why did they not realize that you know best and things should be done your way? No wonder you are feeling a little short-tempered.
Coming home you notice that your dog chewed on your favourite new heels and you have a water stain on your beautiful teak coffee table from the tea bag your honey left laying around (again, not using a coaster). You feel the pressure building as steam comes out of your ears and your face turns a rich shade of scarlet. In short, your Pitta Dosha is stretched to its limits and your are off balance. You need to cool down.
According to Ayurveda, Yoga’s five thousand year old sister science, everything is governed by the natural elements of air, space, fire, water and earth. Each of these elements are associated with one, or in some cases two, of the Ayurvedic Doshas; the constitutional types. Vata Dosha, which I spoke about in part I of this series, is governed by space and air; Pitta Dosha is governed by fire and water, and Kapha Dosha is associated with water and earth.
Each of these Doshas are linked to certain qualities and can be pacified or aggravated by inner and outer circumstances that display these qualities.
What Dosha Are You?
In this article I will address Pitta, the Dosha that is governed predominantly by fire. If you are a little bit hot headed, have a “my way or the highway” attitude and would much rather go skiing down the slopes than lay in the tropical sun, you will want to read on.
Cool As A Cucumber: Food for Pitta
The flavors that sweeten a hot-headed and hot-bodied Pitta person are sweet, bitter and astringent. The tastes most aggravating to this type are salty, sour and pungent. The Pitta type tends toward acidity, and this may surface in heart burn and inflammatory conditions. Keeping a lightly alkaline blood environment is beneficial for Pitta and can be achieved by eating lots of yummy green leafy and alkaline veggies. Sweet and cooling fruit, such as sweet mangoes, apples berries and melon (particularly watermelon which is sweet and cooling in nature and has many healing benefits) are great choices for your diet. Sipping cool (never cold) water with a spritz of lime or lemon is a great way to keep a cool temper and keep your blood from boiling.
Pitta and Exercise
If you are a Pitta person, you likely love yourself some friendly competition both in your athletic endeavors, and in your personal and business life. Getting into a sport that requires a certain skill level and allows you to achieve and compete will likely give you a much needed outlet for your competitive and perfectionist work style. Competitive sports, such as running, cycling, playing tennis or racket ball, or even training for a body building competition, will give you a sense of purpose while jiving with your sense of drive and achievement.
There’s nothing wrong with being a little competitive, but you’ll want to consider a cooling or calming activity to balance your Dosha. Consider swimming (sure, compete if you must) as an active form of cooling refreshment with the added ability to push and challenge you. You will be a very happy Pitta camper if you allow yourself regular evening walks in the cooling moonlight, especially when sharing this down time with a sweet friend or loving partner.
Be Still: Meditation for Pitta
The Pitta person tends to be strong willed, determined and driven, and is often busy pondering and planning out new endeavors. If you are a Pitta planner and leader you may know how difficult it is for you to step out of busy mode to chill and relax. Meditation is a fantastic tool for Pittas who need to take a break from thinking and planning. Spend time calming your mind, and you’ll resurface feeling refreshed, with new ideas and increased problem solving skills.
The Pitta mind responds well to a meditation centered around soothing sound, smells, and colors. You may wish to listen to calming sounds of water or light a scented candle with a fresh cooling scent. Surrounding yourself with cool and light colors, or focusing your gaze on a cooling and calming Yantra, will guide your mind into a peaceful and tranquil state. Gentle or cooling Pranayama (breath work) such as Shitali or Sitkari Pranayama will also soothe your temper and focus your mind.
If you are of high Pitta constitution, you’ll be drawn to hot yoga classes like a bee to honey. But remember that hot yoga, Vinyasa flow classes and traditional Ashtanga are styles best practiced in moderation.
The often A-type-ish Pitta person likes nothing more then working hard and reaping the benefits in business, their relationship, or in physical activity. Pitta tends to be of a strong and agile build and they like to move and sweat. To balance the challenge of the challenge with cooling calmness and to keep from over extending your limits, consider switching your Hot Yoga shorts for comfy casual wear and a Restorative or Yin style class once or twice per week. Forward bends and twists in particular are beneficial for Pitta as they are cooling and have a refreshing and rejuvenating effect on the blood and lymphatic system, thus allowing for optimal oxygen-blood exchange that is perfect for releasing built-up heat and tension from the midsection, while also fueling the mind.
The Pitta Motto
For you, dear Pitta type, relaxation should be your preferred motto. Staying calm, cool and collected while focusing and leading your team to success is the perfect balance. Remember to take time out for family, friends, loved ones and to enjoy the sweetness life has in store for you.
What's your Ayurvedic dosha? Take this quiz and find out
The balance of your Ayurvedic doshas, also known as prakruti, is a key part of understanding your holistic health.
Doshas are the three energies found in nature, and also in the human body. They are broken down into three types: vata, pitta and kapha. The doshas are responsible over our bodies, minds, emotions, and thoughts. From birth, we are each individually made with a very specific blend of the five basic elements: ether, air, fire, water, and earth. That unique blend is your prakruti, or what uniquely constitutes your individual body, and can be broken down by a combination of the three doshas: vata (ether + air), pitta (fire + water), and kapha (water + earth).
The three doshas are the building blocks to understanding our prakruti, and once you understand which is your dominant dosha, you can know what your balanced state looks like. This is vital, as through this lens you can spot exactly when your body goes out of balance, and how to bring it back into balance. Humans are being of nature, constructed from the same five elements, and thus can use the opposing elements as needed to bring us back into balance.
It all hinges on knowing your doshas, however. You can get a general sense of where your dosha balance lies, and go from there to correct the problems. You can even seek out the help of an Ayurvedic practitioner, who can take a look at your insights and prescribe anything from food and herbs to a new lifestyle. Thanks, Ayurveda!
Tally up the number of v’s, p’s, and k’s you receive (standing for vata, pitta, and kapha), whichever you have the most of is your dominant dosha:
- v) I am a slender person and I hardly gain weight
- p) I am medium build
- k) I am well built and I gain weight no matter what I do
- v) My skin is dry, thin, and itches often
- p) My skin looks flushed; I have lots of moles and freckles on my body
- k) My skin is smooth and soft, it looks pale sometimes
- v) My hair is dry, thin and brittle
- p) My hair is neither dry nor oily (for men: I have a receding hairline)
- k) My hair is thick, full, lustrous, and slightly oily
- v) My face is oval
- p) My face is triangular (pointed chin, prominent jaw line)
- k) My face is round
- v) My eyes are small; they feel dry often and have a bit of dullness (usually brown)
- p) My eyes are medium in shape; sharp & penetrating (usually blue)
- k) My eyes are big and round in shape, full eyelashes
- v) My hands are generally dry, rough; slender fingers; dry nails
- p) My hands are generally moist, pink; medium fingers; soft nails
- k) My hands are generally firm, thick; thick fingers; strong & smooth nails
- v) My joints are small, prominent bones, and often crack
- p) My joints are medium and loose
- k) My joints are large, sturdy, with lots of muscle surrounding
- v) I am a very active person (always on the go, mind constantly thinking)
- p) I like to think before I do anything
- k) I am steady and graceful (I don’t like to rush)
- v) I walk fast and talk fast
- p) My actions are very thoughtful and precise
- k) I like a slower pace and I take my time to accomplish things
- v) I do not sleep soundly at night. I tend to toss and turn. I wake up early in the morning
- p) I am a light sleeper but if something wakes me up, I can go back to sleep easily
- k) I am a heavy sleeper
- v) Varies, sometimes I feel hungry, sometimes not, I feel anxious if I don’t eat
- p) I always feel hungry. If I don’t eat I get irritable and angry
- k) I don’t feel very hungry. I can go without food easily for a day
12. Bowel Movement
- v) I tend to have constipation and can go a day or two without a bowel movement
- p) I am regular and sometimes stools are loose (tend to get diarrhea)
- k) I have no problem. I wake up to go to the bathroom.
- v) My voice tends to be weak or hoarse
- p) I have a strong voice, I may get loud sometimes
- k) My voice is deep, has good tone
- v) I am a born worrier, I often feel anxious and nervous
- p) If things don’t happen my way, I feel irritable and angry
- k) I am a happy person, very caring and loving
15. Weather Preference
- v) I love warm and humid weather
- p) I enjoy cool weather, I dislike a warm climate
- k) I like warm but dry weather
- v) I sweat little but not much
- p) I sweat profusely and it might have an unpleasant odor
- k) I never sweat, unless working very hard
- v) I remember quickly and forget quickly
- p) I remember what I want to remember and never forget
- k) It takes me a while to remember, but once I do I never forget
- v) I tend to be spontaneous
- p) I am a list maker. Unless I plan, I don’t do anything
- k) I don’t like to plan, I prefer to follow others
- v) I like to do things in spurts and I get tired very easily
- p) I have medium stamina
- k) I can work long hours and maintain good stamina
- v) My mind gets restless and racing easily
- p) I get impatient easily
- k) It takes a lot to make me mad. I usually feel very calm
21. Decision Making
- v) I change my mind more often and will take time to make a decision
- p) I can make a decision easily and stick with it
- k) I want others to make the decisions
- v) “Is it too late to change my mind”?
- p) “It’s my way or the highway”
- k) “Don’t worry, be happy!”
- v) I like action
- p) I like to win
- k) I like to have fun
24. Health Problems
- v) My symptoms are mainly pain, constipation, anxiety and depression
- p) I often get skin infections, fevers, heart burn, and hypertension
- k) I tend to get allergies, congestion, weight gain and digestive problems
- v) I like art (drawing, painting, dance) and travel
- p) I like sports, politics, and things that get my adrenaline pumping
- k) I like nature, gardening, reading, and knitting