In Ayurveda, Pitta is one of the three doshas (mind-body types). The qualities of Pitta are: hot, light, intense, pungent, penetrating, sour, and sharp. Pitta is associated with the Fire element.
Pitta governs transformation and the digestion of ideas, emotions, sensations and food. It regulates the actions of the digestive system and is responsible for the processes of metabolism and energy production.
If Pitta is your primary dosha (are you kapha? find out here), passion and courage are basic to your nature; you will tend to be muscular, intelligent, and ambitious. As long as Pitta is kept in balance, you will be warm, intelligent, and provide good leadership. Out of balance, Pitta is critical, easily frustrated, and aggressive.
Check out balancing Pitta Recipes here
Physical Characteristics- Those who are Pitta in nature have a moderately well-developed physique with muscular limbs and a purposeful, stable gait of medium speed. With a loud, strong voice and precise, convincing speech, the skin is fair, soft, lustrous, warm, and tends to burn easily. Pitta types tend to have freckles, moles and a tendency towards rashes. The body is hot and sweaty. The hair is fine and soft and may be reddish. The hair tends to grey early or become prematurely bald. The face is heart-shaped, often with a pointed chin, while the neck is proportionate and of average size. A neat, pointed and averaged size nose matches the average- sized eyes that are light blue, light grey or hazel in color. The eyes have an intense luster and may get red in the summer or after bathing. The mouth is of medium size with average sized lips. The teeth are also medium in size and the teeth are yellowish.
Mental/ Emotional Characteristics- Pittas are known for being highly ambitious, confident, and courageous. They have a propensity for focused concentration and have an enthusiasm for knowledge. They are sharp-witted and intelligent. Pittas have an intellectual disposition with an alert, sharp, and focused mind. When out of balance, they have a tendency to anger and become easily frustrated. This manifests as irritation, jealousy, and aggressiveness. They may be knife-like with their intellect when angered. Pitta-types are more likely to be discriminatory, judgmental, and proud. On the plus side, Pittas have a developed sense of responsibility and are able to make decisions and organize affairs well. Though they tend to be argumentative they also tend to have a keen sense of humor which, when in balance, is highly redeeming quality. They have selective memories which help them learn fast. Pittas are moderate in spending tendencies though they usually seek to spend on high quality products and luxury items rather than frivolous and fleeting thrills.
Pitta in Balance:
When Pittas are in balance they have a lustrous complexion, strong digestion, plentiful energy, and a healthy appetite. They are precise, direct, articulate, and able to make important decisions even under pressure. Their high degree of organization coupled with their strong sense of direction, ambition, and confidence enables them to be movers and shakers. They make excellent teachers and speakers and are often looked to as leaders in their community.
Pitta out of Balance:
When Pitta falls out of balance it is evident through skin rashes, acne, hair thinning, peptic ulcers, excessive body heat, indigestion, and heart burn. Emotionally, Pittas can be short-tempered and argumentative angering over even seemingly “small” issues. The tendency is for Pittas to blame others, external circumstances, even the weather for their foul mood.
If your Pitta is out of balance and your fiery nature is in full effect you may feel frustrated and short-tempered. As the heat in your body builds you may feel increasingly hot-headed as well as have physical symptoms of warmth, a rosy complexion, and even heartburn. You may also have signs such as increased body odor, excess sweating, and break out in rashes. If you are experiencing any of these signs and symptoms of imbalanced Pitta dosha, it’s time to cool down and work toward creating a softer, more relaxed routine and adopt a cooling diet.
A basic principle of Ayurveda is “like increases like”. When the qualities of Pitta (hot, light, intense, pungent, penetrating, sour, and sharp) are increased, Pitta naturally builds in your body. Consider that eating spicy foods on a hot summer day and even feeling “hot” emotions will only serve to aggravate Pitta whereas drinking cooling beverages such as aloe vera juice, dressing in cool colors, and manifesting “cooling” feelings will balance the dosha. It is therefore advisable for Pitta-predominant individuals to adopt routines, environments, and diets that have opposite qualities (cooling, sweet, soft, and stabilizing) to keep Pitta in check.
Pitta-Balancing Lifestyle Guidelines:
- Pitta is hot. Balance Pitta by keeping cool and preferring environments that are cool and dry. Wear clothing that breathes easily and change into fresh, cooling clothes regularly especially if you are prone to sweating and producing odor. Get into water to cool off in hot summer days. Enjoy cold weather sports like skiing and ice-skating and, in general, early morning exercise is preferable.
- Pitta is sharp. Laughing and emphasizing a “softer” side of life filled will help tame Pitta’s sharper edge.
- Prefer aromas that are cooling and sweet such as jasmine, lavender, sandalwood, and rose.
- Favor calming, sweet, melodic music that will cool the heat of Pitta-types.
- Spend time in nature to refresh and revitalize. Try walks in the woods and in areas with natural water sources. Try to be outside in the mornings and evenings and especially when you can be exposed to the moonlight.
- Follow a regular routine but allow ample room for fun, free time, and leisure. Over-extending yourself will not serve you in the long-term.
- Spend time with animals and plants to reconnect with nature and put your aspirations, dreams, and long-term dreams into perspective.
- Adopt a practice of daily self massage (Abhyanga) using cooling oils such as sunflower and coconut.
- Swap out heating colors in your clothing and environment (red, orange, yellow) for cooling colors such as blue, silver, and green.
- Practice a daily meditation focused on surrendering and “going with the flow” versus forcing the flow. This will help prevent the mental and physical “burnout” often characteristic of over-ambitious Pitta-types.
Pitta-Balancing Nutrition Guideline:
- Eat regular meals making sure to eat before hunger becomes intense. Favor cooling foods that are sweet, bitter, and astringent. Naturally sweet foods include rice and most fruits. Leafy greens such as kale are bitter and lentils have an astringent taste.
- Avoid or decrease eating foods that are pungent, sour, and salty which all increase Pitta due to their heating quality.
- Raw, fresh, and cooling foods are good “medicine” for Pitta whose strong digestive system can break-down raw foods more effectively than other doshas.
- Limit or avoid hot, spicy foods such as chili peppers which aggravate Pitta dosha and can cause ulcers in an already heated digestive tract.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine that increases aggression, anger, and frustration.
- Prefer cooking with sunflower and coconut oils which are cooling. Reduce the use of sesame, almond, and corn oils which are more heating.
- Avoid fried, processed, and refined foods that aggravate Pitta.
- Favor cooling drinks such as aloe vera juice and green juices made with fresh herbs and other greens.
- Use sour and fermented products such as yogurt and cheese sparingly (<3x/week) as sour foods exacerbate Pitta.
- Ghee (clarified butter) is balancing for Pitta and is recommended.
- Enjoy all sweeteners in moderation except molasses and honey which are heating.
- Prefer wheat, rice, oats, and barely over corn, millet, and rye.
- Fruits are typically sweet and therefore beneficial to Pitta. Reduce sour fruits such as citrus fruits, apricots, and berries.
- Coriander, cilantro, cardamom, saffron, and fennel are the most soothing and cooling spices for Pitta.
- Limit heating spices such as black pepper, fenugreek, mustard seed, salt, and ginger. Avoid altogether spices such as chili peppers and cayenne.
- Chew on fennel seeds following a meal to help relieve stomach acid and aid in proper digestion.
See Recipes for Pitta Dosha here
Are you a Pitta type?
Identifying your mind-body type (basic nature) is an important step to understand your innate strengths and challenges. With this knowledge you are empowered to make choices and adopt routines that will keep you healthy and balanced.
Take the Dosha Quiz to get started today!
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