10 Ways to Tame the Pitta Summer Flame

The heat is on! Are you ready for summer?

Here in Australia the weather has finally turned to summer and we all know it’s just the beginning of feeling the fire element and all its force every day for a few months.

Some of us may embrace this time of year, taking every chance we can to run to the beach and soak up the rays, while others of us feel flustered and overheated just thinking about the temperature gage increasing.fd0afce2afb030f67b15d0d23ad55828

What is your reaction to the heat and this time of year? Does it make you feel good or not? Your answer should give you some insight into your constitution (Vata, Pitta or Kapha) and what you need to keep balanced and cool.

Summer is the Pitta time of year, so if you have a Pitta dominance you’ll want to pay extra attention to keeping yourself from overheating.

We see the doshas not just in our body, but also in the seasons. The Vata dosha, comprised of ether and air, dominates Autumn and early Winter. Kapha, composed of water and earth elements, shows up most in late Winter and Spring. While Pitta, comprised of fire and water, dominates in Summer.

The qualities (gunas) of Pitta include oily, sharp, hot, light, moving, liquid and acidic.

Remember the simple Ayurvedic law we talked about in the last blog: like increases like, while opposites create balance. As we take a closer look at the Pitta constitution, keep that principle in mind and start to notice where these qualities are in excess and your internal flame may be turned up too high or where you lack these qualities and the fire may need a little stoking.

Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 1.46.00 PMPitta translates to mean “that which cooks.”

Pitta is most closely related to fire, but also contains the water element which gives it a liquid nature. It is the energy of digestion and metabolism in the body and functions through substances such as organic acids, hormones, enzymes and bile. We see Pitta most in the small intestine, stomach, liver, spleen, pancreas, blood, eyes and sweat.

Pitta governs all processes related to conversion and transformation–in the body as well as in the mind. Psychologically, Pitta manifests as joy, courage and willpower when balanced. When out of balance and overheated it shows up as anger, jealousy and impatience.

Pitta individuals tend to have medium builds and strong bodies with little problem losing or gaining weight. They often have bright and penetrating eyes and can tend toward delicate or oily skin prone to acne.

Due to a strong internal fire the Pitta person also has a strong metabolism and appetite (and becomes irritable when skipping meals so feed the Pittas around you lest you feel their wrath!). For this same reason these people may have problems with lose stool, heartburn, liver disorders and inflammation.

The Pitta within us all provides the radiant light of the intellect.

When we’re connected to and living our passions (no matter what our dominant constitution), our eyes light up and we radiate joy, courage and purpose.

Take a moment and think of something that brings you joy and makes your eyes sparkle. How can you bring that into your life every day?

Making joy a practice can be one of the greatest ways to stoke your internal fire. Just dedicating a portion of your day to feeling joyful can burn up the blockages within, opening the mind to new possibilities and sharpening the intellect.

We must also know how to calm the flames so we don’t get burned.

To balance Pitta think cooling, calming and moderation.Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 1.44.02 PM

Summer recommendations to tame Pitta for all doshas:
Eat more cooling foods with high water content.
Wear light, breathable clothing.
Take cool baths and showers.
Avoid overly spicy food.
Drink more water.
Avoid exposure to the sun between noon and 3pm.
Take a short nap during the day.
Favor cooling exercises like swimming.
Take walks under the moonlight.
Use cooling body oils (coconut)

Know thy Constitution

by Morgan Webert

Recently, my Ayurvedic teacher Cate Stillman, made one of those so obvious it’s profound comments. She said, “The more we understand our constitution the more we can collaborate between what we want to do and what we’ve got to do it with.”

In the West we don’t often talk about our constitution, our intrinsic doshasnature or the basic material we’re made up of in relation to creating our life. And yet, we wouldn’t imagine building a house without knowing what kind of material was available or best to use.

Thinking like this is very practical and very logical, and that’s one reason I love Ayurveda; it encourages us to understand the simple material we’re made up of and learn how best to use it in the process of building our lives.

And make no mistake, we are building this life, one breath and choice at a time. With a greater understanding of ourselves, especially at the most simple and subtle levels, we make more informed choices and breaths that support us in creating a vibrant and happy life.

So what are we made of?! 

Ayurveda, the traditional medicine system of India, recognizes that every living thing is comprised of the five elements: ether, air, fire, water and earth. The system also observes that as these elements manifest into form they tend to group in three particular ways called the doshas.

The fist dosha is called Vata and is a combination of ether and air. The second dosha is Pitta and is a combination of fire and water. The third dosha is Kapha and is a combination of earth and water.

Because we contain all five elements within us, all three of the doshas also show up in everyone one of us, but each person will have their own unique ratio of these elements and doshas.

three-doshasThis unique combination is called our prakruti or constitution. Most people have one dominant dosha and this shows up in our personality, body type, digestion and lifestyle. Knowing what is most and least dominant in you is such an important step in knowing how to build a happy and healthy life.

To continue with the house metaphor, we wouldn’t build an open air Balinese thatched roof house in Alaska lest we freeze to death. Along the same lines, a person with mostly fire in their constitution will likely end up feeling irritable, over heated or get heart burn if they eat too much chili and spend too much time in the sun.

Building a life with balance

When we feel good, most likely we’re making choices that balance our constitution, and when we don’t feel good mostly likely some aspect of our life is causing an imbalance. The imbalances are called our vikruti and it’s just as important to identify how you’re out of whack or what’s easily tipped off balance in order to change or prevent it.

Over the next few weeks in class and in this blog we’ll dive deeper into the three doshas and how they show up in our body, mind and society.

In the mean time go take a test online to find out what your constitution is. Tell us what you found out and how it’s making you think about yourself differently or if it supports what you’ve known intuitively!

Here is a quick and accurate dosha test, should only take a few minutes, but there are a bunch out there so if you have the time try a few and you’ll get even more insight into what you’ve got to work with to make the life you want.