The Pitta dosha is governed by fire and water, although the former is more pronounced. Pitta regulates metabolism, body temperature, digestion, and intelligence – all bodily functions related to transformation. It’s responsible for the digestive fire or agnis of the body.
Pitta Dosha Characteristics
The qualities or characteristics of Pitta are hot, light, liquid, oily, sharp, and spreading or mobile. It is also subtle and clear. Those who are dominated by the Pitta dosha and have a Pitta constitution are more likely to possess the following features:
- Physical: Medium frame with strong build, moderate prominence of veins, thin hair, sharp eyes, soft nails and sharp nose
- Nature and temperament: Ambitious, good concentration, confident, courageous, intelligent, good comprehension, quick to anger and get attached easily
- Appetite: Strong metabolism and strong appetite with good digestion
- Perspiration: Sweat heavily
- Sleep: Sleep for a medium duration, generally uninterrupted
When a Pitta type is balanced, they will generally have smooth digestion and a healthy complexion. They will be filled with energy and will have a strong appetite, not just for food but for life in general. Pittas are passionate and love to experience everything to its fullest. A healthy balanced Pitta will have no problem concentrating. They can easily make decisions and make natural teachers and leaders. They can often be outspoken.
Pittas can become imbalanced when Pitta qualities (hot, light, liquid, oily, sharp, and spreading or mobile) accumulate and build up within the body and mind due to an incorrect diet and/or lifestyle. Some examples of Pitta aggravating activities include eating spicy foods, drinking coffee, getting too much sun, pushing yourself too hard and experiencing emotional stress.
When there is a Pitta imbalance, people may struggle with skin conditions such as acne, rashes or eczema. They may develop digestive issues like heartburn, acid indigestion, ulcers, diarrhea, gastritis or become extremely hot and prone to hot flashes and fevers. They can also experience early graying of the hair and eye conditions.
Mentally and emotionally, Pitta imbalance can lead to anger or irrational outbursts. Pitta types may lose their ‘filter’ and speak out harshly or critically. They may experience irritation, impatience, frustration, aggression, hatred, judgement, criticism, and jealousy.
During Pitta season, which occurs in the summer months between late spring and early fall, Pitta types are especially at risk of a Pitta imbalance. The hot, bright and sharp qualities of summer can accumulate, leading to imbalances in both Pitta and non Pitta types. It’s important to take extra care to balance Pitta during the summer months.
How to Pacify Pitta Dosha
In Ayurveda, like increase like and opposites balance so the qualities or characteristics that balance Pitta include cool, heavy, dense, dry, slow, dull, and static. This means that you should make diet, exercise and lifestyle choices that align with these qualities.
If you want to balance your dosha, one of the easiest places to start is by balancing your diet. This means that you’ll want to eat foods with qualities that oppose those of your dosha. For Pitta types, that means consuming foods and drinks that are counter to hot, light and sharp qualities.
Specifically, Pitta types should enjoy lots of cooling, heavy, mild and soothing foods and emphasize sweet, bitter and astringent tastes:
- Fresh dairy is great for helping to pacify Pitta, although fermented dairy products like yogurt should be avoided.
- Grains like wheat, rice, barley and oats are great for balancing pitta while buckwheat, corn, rye, millet, and brown rice should only occasionally be eaten
- Eat sweet fruits such as red grapes, melons, and mangoes and limit unripe or sour fruits like grapefruits and green grapes.
- Enjoy cooling oils such as coconut, olive and sunflower and limit heating oils like sesame and almond. Reduce greasy and fried foods.
- Enjoy vegetables like asparagus, cucumbers, potatoes, broccoli, celery, okra, green beans and zucchini, and eat tomatoes, onions, turnip greens, and anything pungent sparingly.
- If you eat meat, you should stick to chicken, pheasant, or turkey and limit red meats and seafood.
- Eat lots of soothing and cooling spices, like cilantro, coriander, saffron, and fennel and limit heating spices like ginger, pepper, and mustard. Hot peppers should not be eaten.
- Drink lots of cooling beverages like water with lime, cucumber or watermelon and Pitta teas, and reduce or eliminate alcohol and coffee as they provoke Pitta.
For a complete list of Pitta foods and drinks to eat and avoid and important diet considerations, read Pitta Diet: What To Eat To Keep Energies in Balance.
Pitta Daily Routine
Cultivating a daily routine is one of the best ways to help make sure that you stay healthy and balanced. A Pitta daily routine should focus on remaining cool and calm. These are some of suggestions to include in your daily routine.
Wake Up Before Sunrise
This is a good tip for people of any dosha. Waking up before 6 AM ensures that you start the day before Kapha time, when energies are slow and sluggish. This also helps to ensure that you can get in the habit of starting your routine early in the day.
Practice Abhyanga with Coconut Oil
Abhyanga is an essential step in the Ayurvedic morning routine. Pitta types benefit from using coconut oil or sunflower oil. These oils are good for calming the nervous system and cooling the body.
Bathe & Shower with Cool Water
Taking a cool shower or bath can help to reduce excess Pitta. Listen to your body to determine whether warm or cool water will benefit you.
Enjoy Moderate Exercise
The best exercises for a Pitta type are ones that are grounding, relaxed, and moderately-paced. Pitta types should avoid activities that cause excessive internal heat, and should try to avoid overly competitive sports. For pittas, it is also important to avoid exercising during the midday Pitta hours, instead opting for exercise before 10 a.m. or after 2 p.m.
Yoga, skiing, skating, swimming, and biking are all great options for the Pitta dosha. In particular, yin yoga is good for a Pitta because it is slow, relaxing, and cooling, and helps to invigorate the body without over-exerting it.
Meditate and Practice Cooling Pranayama
Practice meditation and a cooling pranayama after your asanas. Meditation and pranayama are highly effective tools in reducing excess Pitta. Both practices encourage grounding, reduce stress, aid in the release of emotions, and cultivate peace – all things Pittas tend to need help with. For meditation practices, try focusing on the breath or So Hum Meditation. For Pranayama, try shitali (or sheetali) and chandra bhedana..
Pitta types are fiery and passionate, always trying to get the most out of life. They can easily get carried away with their drive and passion, leading to competitiveness, perfectionism, over-scheduling, etc. That’s why it’s very important for Pitta types to practice moderation and avoid extremes. Here are some tips for maintaining a healthy lifestyle:
- Make sure to leave space in between appointments and use that time to cool down.
- Schedule time for leisure to ensure you don’t neglect rest and relaxation.
- Try to enjoy one belly laugh a day. Laughter releases stress and anger and softens Pitta’s nature.
Spend Time In Nature
Pitta types benefit greatly from spending time in nature, especially bodies of water. If you live near a lake, stream, beach, or even a man-made body of water, take time to walk by it everyday. If you can, time this walk so that it precedes or comes after one of the more stressful periods of your day. Water is both cooling and calming, and can help to reduce the fiery aspect of Pitta. If you don’t live near water, spending time in a forest or under the shade of a tree can be pacifying as well.
Take it Easy in the Evening
It’s especially important for Pitta to take it easy during the evening. Spend your time relaxing with people that you care about. Avoid any strenuous exercise and try to avoid doing anything that requires intense concentration too close to bedtime.
To calm an overactive mind, consider falling asleep on your right side. Sleeping on your right side opens your left nostril. This correlates to the ida nadi, the subtle energy channel that corresponds to the cooling moon.
Pitta and the 5 Senses
It’s important to consider how the five senses can be leveraged to pacify the Pitta dosha.
Taste is a very important way to pacify the Pitta dosha. The tastes that balance Pitta are sweet, bitter and astringent. Be sure to pick foods and produce that favor these tastes. For example, purple grapes are better than sour green grapes for pacifying the Pitta dosha.
Cooling shades such as blues, greens, pastels, whites, and silvers balance the Pitta dosha. Try to incorporate these colors in your clothing, accessories, and home décor.
Taking in the sights of nature is also a great way to pacify Pitta. Earth tones can provide color therapy. For instance, lakes, rivers and oceans offer calming blue hues and forests provide cooling green shades.
Pitta Essential Oils
Use sweet and relaxing aromas like jasmine, rose, honeysuckle, mint, lavender, chamomile, geranium, and ylang-ylang to stay cool and centered. Pitta types may also want to keep a rose mist handy for spraying the face and body when overheated or emotional.
Listen to music that is soothing, calming and rhythmic to balance the Pitta dosha.
Wear clothing that is made from loose, breathable, light, and natural fabrics like cotton, linen and hemp to stay cool.
If you’re feeling the effects of too much Pitta, consider the following Pitta remedies:
- Drink a Pitta tea to improve digestion and calm the mind.
- Get a dose of Amalaki or Amla berry to cleanse excess Pitta from the body. You can get a daily dose of Amla berry from Chyawanprash, an ancient tridoshic formula that helps improve overall digestion, health, immunity and longevity.
- Soak your feet in a natural body of water. You can also use a swimming pool or bathtub.
- Apply coconut oil to the soles of your feet before bed.
In some cases of Pitta imbalance, it can be helpful to engage in a cleanse or detoxification to re-balance. Often, the most important time for a Pitta to cleanse is during the transition to fall, since the hot and fiery summer months may lead to an accumulation of Pitta. During a time of cleansing, it’s important to set up an environment that supports your detoxification. That means stopping engagement in any activities that are too intense, avoiding stressful and emotional situations, and surrounding yourself with uplifting and relaxing items and people.
Reviewed by Dr. Jayant Lokhande, MD (Botanical Drugs), MBA (Biotechnology)