What is Pitta and Why am I so HOT?

Thousands of years before modern medicine provided scientific evidence for the mind-body connection, the sages of India developed Ayurveda, which continues to be one of the world’s most sophisticated and powerful mind-body health systems. More than a mere system of treating illness, Ayurveda is a science of life (Ayur = life, Veda = science or knowledge). It offers a body of wisdom designed to help people stay vibrant and healthy while realizing their full human potential.

The two main guiding principles of Ayurveda are 1.) the mind and the body are inextricably connected, and 2.) nothing has more power to heal and transform the body than the mind.  Freedom from illness depends upon expanding our own awareness, bringing it into balance, and then extending that balance to the body. This process isn’t as complicated as it may sound.

In Ayurveda, Prakriti is your basic constitution. It is determined at the moment of conception and relates to your genetically inherited physical and emotional qualities. Prakriti specifically relates to those qualities, characteristics and tendencies that are stable. For instance, while you may experience temporary changes, like gaining or losing ten pounds, feeling nervous or irritable, developing a cold or flu, etc., in the natural course of life you will never gain or lose five inches on your height or experience a change of eye color.

Prakriti is enlivened and described by three main doshas or forces: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. These are loosely translated as Air, Fire and Earth, respectively. Each of us has all three doshas in our constitution, in unique proportions.

Pitta dosha is the expression of radiant energy, both within our bodies and in the universe.  It is this energy that fuels all biochemical activities, including transformation, digestion, metabolism and assimilation.  Pitta is responsible for enzymatic and endocrine activity, the regulation of body temperature, pigmentation, vision, intelligence, vitality, ambition, courage and understanding.

When pittas key qualities are in a balanced state, the pitta person exudes bliss, joy, truth and robust health.  Pitta individuals tend to possess a strong-willed, passionate and fiery disposition.  They are the natural leaders in society, being ambitious, organized, bright and disciplined. They are the ones who enjoy staying up late at night, burning the midnight oil.  The pitta body type is naturally athletic and one of medium height, weight and musculature.  Pittas have intense appetites and thirst.  Don’t even talk to a pitta person until they have eaten!

During the summer season, due to the hot quality, pitta people become more susceptible to heat related ailments.  Signs of increased pitta in the body include excessive body heat, heartburn, hyperacidity, peptic ulcers, acne, skin rashes, diarrhea and early graying of the hair.  The pitta person is prone to a low tolerance for heat, sunshine, or hard physical work.  When out of balance emotionally, the sharp quality of pitta arouses aggression, irritability, anger, hatred, judgement, criticism, and jealousy.  Special care must be taken in order for them to remain cool, calm and peaceful.  In general, to balance pitta, we learn to apply its opposite energy (cool).

Pacifying pitta during the hot summer season requires living in harmony with the inherent rhythms of Nature and cultivating balance while observing patience and compassion with ourselves, others and environment. Sangha Yoga Studio has a few yoga classes that are specifically beneficial for balancing summertime Pitta:

Love your Body Yoga Mondays 12-1pm w/Tom Camp, Restorative Yoga with iRest Mondays 5:30-6:45pm with Annie Marcum, All Levels Hatha Yoga Tuesdays 6-7:30pm with Meghan Madhavi Burke, Therapeutic Gentle Yoga Wednesdays 12-1pm w/Meghan Madhavi Burke, All Levels Hatha Yoga Saturdays 12-1:30pm w/ Michelle Arington. Drop-in to any of these classes, anytime ($15) and feel your internal air-conditioning cooling back to balance.