Episode 73: Ayurveda Routines To Balance Pitta
Ayurveda has 3 main doshas or mind-body types - Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. We are each made up of all three but in varying amounts, often one or two are most dominant, however, all three may be very present with somebody who is tri-doshic. The amounts of these doshas can increase and decrease based on our lifestyle, and when we move away from our natural dosha levels, this is when imbalances can start to appear. When we practice noticing and listening to our body and mind, and its subtle signals that we are out of balance we can begin to catch the imbalances earlier otherwise we may start to move through the different stages of the disease and the body is screaming at us instead!
In the last but one blog I spoke about Ayurveda Routines for Vata. Today we are moving on and looking at Ayurveda Routines to balance Pitta. You can find out which mind-body type you could focus on balancing, using natural methods, with my Anxiety Profile Quiz - where you will receive personalised recommendations to support anxiety and your overall well-being - the link in the show notes.
Pitta dosha relates mostly to the fire element - being 90% fire and 10% water. When I think of a blazing fire or the hot sun I think of heat, energy, transformation, and burning away that which I don’t need. To find the balance we work with opposite qualities to help reduce the level of aggravation, for example with Pitta dosha; if we are feeling hot-headed and have inflammation - then we want to focus on things that are cooling and calming for the body and mind instead.
We are focusing on balancing Pitta routines in this episode. If you implemented a couple of ideas from this episode you would start to feel a difference if you need to feel more cool, calm, and collected.
Firstly, let's understand which qualities might throw Pitta out of balance in our bodies and minds.
What can throw Pitta out of balance?
Pitta can be aggravated by an excess of heat - this can be caused by hot weather being outside, especially at the hottest time of the day - have you ever felt irritable standing in a queue in the burning sunshine? Other hot environments include environments like hot kitchens, saunas, and steam rooms for lengthy periods of time. Excess heat can be created through excessive exercise creating extra heat in the body. When it comes to food in extremes maybe we will start sweating if we have a seriously hot curry! Along with spicy foods - garlic, onions, and mustard are also heated along with chilies, alcohol, and coffee. Ever found yourself in a heated discussion? Stressful situations and confrontations can also create heat within us. Excess heat may show up with symptoms such as red skin, rashes, a fever, irritability, frustration, and anger. Also acid reflux, indigestion, and other burning sensations that we may experience within the body and the mind.
Another quality that can aggravate pitta is a sharp or penetrating effect so maybe you know somebody who has a really sharp tongue when they talk or really penetrating eyes that really look at you intensely. Things that can aggravate this quality include alcohol, chemical detergents, perfumes, and different kinds of chilies. It can also be affected by the impression that we take in through our senses that penetrate our body and mind - sharp sounds such as a horn honking or sharp images - perhaps there’s a lot of action in a movie. There is also some impact when we do jobs that require lots of concentration for example, we need a sharp mind for law, accountancy, or politics, or working in sales we are under a lot of pressure and need to respond quickly and effectively to close the sale. When we need to be really on the ball this can start to increase this sharp quality that we might have. This might also link to judgements, are you quick and sharp to judge and critique yourself and others? Symptoms we may experience when there is an excess of this sharp penetrating quality include gastric or mental irritation, allergic reactions, ulcers, also IBS that I’ve severely suffered with in the past, early greying, hair loss, sarcasm and as I mentioned being overly critical of yourself and others.
Another quality that can aggravate pitta is the light quality. This might be from over-exercising - for example jogging or running and moving through the air with the feet barely on the floor. Travelling for long periods of time we may feel ungrounded and instead of being heavy and firmly planted on the earth we might be in the sky on a plane or travelling via car or train through the air. Bright lights also bring in the light quality, are you exposed to bright lights all day? When it comes to food it might be that we have too many light foods, such as; rice cakes, popcorn, and Basmati rice. If you choose to fast you may feel really light because you're not really bringing any heaviness into the body that you need and therefore you may feel symptoms such as dizziness, lightheadedness, and instability. When the light quality is aggravated we can also experience sensitivity to bright lights, weight loss, insomnia, or nausea.
Pitta can be increased by the liquid quality, this might be having too much water or too many juices, or maybe we have too much salt in our diet which increases our water retention. Symptoms of an imbalance of the liquid quality can include swollen ankles, acid, and indigestion. When there's excess or not enough liquid it might be that we have skin problems and of course, it doesn't sound very pleasant but when things are too liquid what is coming out of our derriere? - maybe we have got some diarrhoea.
Another quality that can aggravate Pitta is the mobile or spreading quality so you might think what earth is this? And this is really the opposite of things being static or still, like a glass of water with a hole in it the water travels out and can create a mess if we aren’t careful! We might be spreading ourselves too thin by taking on too many commitments and responsibilities, possibly for fear of not ‘being or doing enough’. We might be rushing around with an irregular lifestyle where we're trying to do too many things at once and we really have an excessive activity. Often Pittas push and strive to try to be as productive as possible. Pittas may be impatient and a little bit aggressive if someone's getting in the way of what it is that we want to be doing! People with lots of pittas can be very competitive and ambitious and need to be really careful not to burn themselves out - not how burn relates to the fire element! This spreading mobile quality can mean that things might spread on the skin, this could be skin rashes, hives, or eczema. It can also mean that we have infections that are spreading throughout the body. Also when it comes to sleep when we need the mind and body to settle and become still and feel safe, it might be that there is too much mobility in the mind and the body feels restless causing insomnia rather than a restful night's sleep.
Finally, let's look at the oily quality that can throw pitta out of balance. When we've got too much oil or the wrong kinds of oil in our system, then we may experience things like acne, and oily skin and we might feel nauseous or even pain in our gallbladder because we can't digest the fats effectively. So it's key that we're having the right fats so that it can be absorbed efficiently and used effectively within the body to nourish the 7 tissue layers.
In order to balance Pitta routines helping you be cool, calm, and collected is important, and also to help you to feel like you are doing enough if you are someone who is constantly striving and pushing yourself too hard.
Here are my routine recommendations to balance Pitta:
Start the day with something caring and nurturing for you - try a calming yoga practice with twists and side bends to support the liver and gall bladder or a pre-shower oil self-massage with cooling coconut oil, known in ayurveda as abhyanga
Take a pause in the day with cooling sitali breath, breathing in through the mouth with a rolled tongue or pursed lips and out through the nose - feel the difference
In the summer avoid the mid-day heat and seek shade and cooling drinks such as mint and cucumber water
Reduce heat by having a cool shower after work to cleanse and wash away any heated agitation in the body and mind from your day
Practice gratitude rather than focusing on criticism and judgements of yourself and others
Enjoy a hobby at least once a week that isn’t competitive and simply do it for the pleasure of it - yes that might seem strange at first, but notice how you feel!
Spend quality time in person or on the phone with friends and family - let there be free time in your schedule for things like this!
Reduce fast and fried foods and opt for low to medium-spiced foods
Enjoy some alcohol-free days to give the body and chance to cool down and have fewer toxins to process
These are recommendations and it would depend on your own preferences, time, support, and environment. Also recognising any obstacles that might need to be overcome to start to implement some of this step by step and to start to feel the benefits.
Perhaps you feel like there is no spare time or you simply don’t have the energy to even start a new routine. So what would be easiest to get you started? If we want to feel different, we need to make changes otherwise things remain stuck and stagnant - these changes can be small and gradual - it’s about being realistic for you. If you prioritised yourself and started and ended your day with things that help you to feel better, imagine how that would build up on a daily consistent basis and how you might feel.
What can you take from this and begin to try out this week? I invite you to share this with a friend for some accountability and also I’d love for you to share it with me too or do get in touch and let's chat more about creating supportive ayurveda routines for you - I’m always on the other side of a message.
If you would like to listen in to the 20 minute podcast episode, you can click here. You can also take my free quiz to Discover Your Anxiety Profile understand more about your mind-body type, as well as getting some personalised tips on how to start to curb anxiety. Get the quiz here.
I hope this has been helpful for you,
Love, Sam x
P.S click here to listen now!