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Understanding Pitta and Pitta Dosha


Understanding Pitta and Pitta Dosha

Understanding Pitta season and Pitta dosha has been an important part of my Ayurvedic education. While studying Ayurveda, I was living in Northern California which has very hot and dry summers with temperatures often reaching 100 °F/35 °C. According to Ayurvedic principles the climate we live in plays an important role with our overall health and wellbeing. The summers in Northern California are very hot and dry and can last up to 6 months. My Ayurvedic studies quickly taught me that I would need to adapt my diet and lifestyle towards pacifying the effects from living in a Pitta climate.


This meant I needed to adopt diet and lifestyle choices that promote both cooling and moistening qualities that help counteract the hot and dry climate. I started drinking aloe vera juice, fresh coconut water, fresh green juices, hibiscus tea, and red clover water which offers a cooling and moistening effect to the body and mind. I also created pitta pacifying recipes to enjoy during the hot pitta months. You may click here to see a few of my favorites. To my amazement, shortly after changing to a pitta pacifying diet and lifestyle I noticed my symptoms of inflammation were becoming less noticeable.


Another significant step that helped pacify pitta dosha was to do an Ayurvedic Fall Cleanse. Ayurveda recommends seasonal cleansing to help dispel the buildup of heat and dryness that accumulates during the summer. The best time for a Fall cleanse is when the weather just starts to feel cool, as this is when the doshas move and are pacified more easily. An Ayurvedic Fall Cleanse is designed to give the digestive system a rest by having only cooked foods that are light, warm and moist. Cooling and nourishing Fall foods like winter squash, beets, carrots, apples and pears are combined with mung bean, quinoa, barley, red lentils, red rice, or basmati rice as they are both cleansing and nourishing.


Jyotish Understanding of Pitta

To fully explain what Pitta is, it will be helpful to first understand the universal energies. Ayurveda says our bodies are made from the five universal elements of Space, Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. The five universal elements combine to create the three doshas of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.


· Vata = Space + Air

· Pitta = Fire + Water

· Kapha = Water + Earth


In Jyotish (Vedic Astrology) each planet relates to an element which relates to one of the Doshas within the body. The Sun, Mars and Ketu are all planets that carry a lot of heat, the Fire element, (the Sun is a luminary and Ketu the South node but for the sake of this article we call them planets). When one of these planets is afflicted in a person’s chart, they experience more heat and inflammation. (Pitta disorders). This affects the physical body, the mind will also have a tendency toward irritability, anger, tendency to want to control things in our life and possible resentment and blame.


The Sun is associated with Asthi dhatu which represents our skeleton and spine, teeth, nails and hair. It also represents our identity. An afflicted Sun can cause Pitta disorders,


constitutional strength and weaknesses and inflammation in the body. (particularly of the spine and joints). An afflicted Sun can also cause various types of personality disorders due to developmental issues in someone’s identity.


Mars is hot like fire. like an army general that controls everything. The Sun is the King, Mars is the general executing the king’s will. Mars is associated with the nervous system, bone marrow, and the fluid in the eyes. An afflicted Mars can cause Pitta disorders, acne, ulcers & liver disorders. When well-placed Mars gives dynamism and high energy, when not well placed it will increase Pitta dosa as well as irritability or frustration often relating to an excess desire to control a situation. Ketu is like Mars in many ways, with heat and energy. Ketu is more about bringing the knowledge from past lives that is pertinent to this life and encouraging us to let go of emotional baggage and guilt. Ketu is highly idealistic and is concerned with transformation and surrendering the ego to a higher power, which can eventually lead to enlightenment. Ketu is linked to Viral diseases.


Each sign is also associated with the Universal elements of Space, Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. Aries, Leo and Sagittarius are the signs that naturally carry more heat and are predisposed to heat and inflammation. These signs require more Pitta pacification.


In any Vedic chart reading it is essential to check imbalances in the Gunas (state of mind) as well as the Five elements. This can make us aware of tendencies in the mind and in the physical body that can lead to disorders or discontent. The remedies that come forth from a Vedic chart reading are spiritual practices aimed at restoring the balance between the Gunas and Elements. This leads to a more balanced and happier life.


Ayurvedic Understanding of Pitta Dosha

Pitta dosha is one of the three fundamental energies in Ayurveda, alongside Vata and Kapha doshas. It is primarily composed of the element fire and to a lesser degree water. Pitta governs all that digests and transforms in our bodies and minds. The qualities associated with Pitta dosha are heat, sharpness, intensity, and fluidity.


The functions of Pitta dosha include digestion that transforms food into nutrients, metabolism that transforms nutrients into energy, eyesight and transforming vision into thoughts, and emotions like courage, confidence, and intellect.


Another important aspect of Pitta is Agni, which is our digestion and metabolism. Healthy agni is the key to health and longevity. If agni is strong then no ama or toxins can enter our bodies and build up. A strong agni also gives us a strong mind and clear sensory perception and the person will have the energy to change their lifestyle in a positive direction.



Pitta Physical Characteristics

  1. Medium Build: individuals often have a moderate, athletic, or well-proportioned build.

  2. Body Temperature: body temperature feels warm and tend to prefer cooler climates.

  3. Facial Features: distinct, sharp features, well-defined jawline and penetrating eyes.

  4. Freckles or Moles: tendency to develop freckles, moles, or other skin blemishes.

  5. Sensitive Skin: sensitive and reactive skin, prone to rashes and allergies.

  6. Hair characteristics: lighter fine hair that is prone to thinning and early greying.

  7. Strong Appetite: strong appetite with a preference for spicy foods.


Pitta Mental and Emotional Characteristics

  1. Intellect: sharp analytical mind, adaptive learner and critical thinking skills.

  2. Ambition: natural drive and ambition, strive for success and achievement.

  3. Intensity: strong emotions and can be enthusiastic about their beliefs and goals.

  4. Organized: keen sense of organization and diligence.

  5. Communication: direct and articulate communication.

  6. Leadership: natural sense of responsibility and initiative.

  7. Competitive: competitive nature and enjoy challenges.

  8. Decision Makers: decisive and confident in making decisions.

  9. Purposeful: driven by goals and focused on achieving them.


It is important to know that not everyone will have all of these characteristics, as each person is unique. We are all individuals with our own personal combination of vata, pitta and kapha. Understanding your predominant dosha will help guide your diet, lifestyle, and self-care practices that help you maintain or restore health.


Symptoms of Imbalanced Pitta Dosha

When in balance, Pitta-dominant individuals are energetic, focused, and effective leaders. However, an excess or imbalance of Pitta can lead to health issues and emotional disturbances.


  1. Digestion: hyperacidity, heartburn, indigestion, and loose stools.

  2. Skin: inflammation, rashes, acne, and sensitivity to the sun.

  3. Emotions: excessive anger, frustration, and impatience.

  4. Communication: tendency to be critical or aggressive in communication.

  5. Body Temperature: feeling excessively hot, especially in warm weather.

  6. Sleep: difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.


General Guidelines to Balance Pitta Dosha

To maintain harmony, it is essential for Pitta individuals to adopt lifestyle choices, diet, and activities that promote coolness, stress relief and relaxation.


1. Diet: consume cool foods such as milk, ghee, rice, green vegetables, coconut, and sweet fruits. Avoid spicy, sour and acidic foods.

2. Lifestyle: calming and cooling practices like walks in nature or light cardio.

3. Routine: follow a regular daily routine to create stability and reduce stress.

4. Avoid Heat: Limiting exposure to excessive activity in the sun or midday.

5. Herbal protocol: Ayurvedic herbs with cooling properties, such as aloe vera and coriander.

6. Create a Calming Environment: Surround yourself with a soothing and calm environment with soft lighting, calming scents, and comfortable clothing to promote relaxation and reduce stress.

7. Mindful Breathing and Meditation: Deep, slow breathing exercises and meditation can help calm the mind and reduce vata related anxiety and restlessness.

8. Adequate Rest: Prioritize sufficient sleep and rest to allow the body and mind to rejuvenate. Maintain a consistent sleep schedule and create a relaxing bedtime routine.


It is important for individuals with a dominant pitta constitution to not overwork or exercise as this will lead to burnout, fatigue and low immunity. A balanced schedule of low stress work combined with relaxing outdoor activities is best for maintaining healthy pitta dosha throughout life.


References:

1. Brhat Parasara Hhora Sstra Graha-guna-svarupa-adhyaya v 23-29.

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