​Keep your “pitta” in balance

An excess of this dosha can show up as irritation, excessive body heat, and digestive problems

Sweta Vikram

Can you believe that today is already Sunday, July 4th? Hope you all are having a good holiday! We all deserve some joy and fun.

For me, January 1 brought the news of one of my childhood friend’s son being killed in a road accident, so I am not going to say, “Where did the year go?”

Between the news of this young boy’s untimely demise to everything that’s happened in India with the Delta variant of the coronavirus, 2021 has us on its tenterhooks. But it feels astonishing to think that half the year is over, no? We have officially entered the summer season after the solstice on June 20.

According to Ayurveda, we are in the pitta season, which is summer. Pitta is made up of the elements of fire and water. Pitta is one of the three doshas known to govern the metabolism and the transformation that takes place in the body. The pitta dosha controls digestion, metabolism, and energy production. Pitta discriminates between right and wrong.

There is the pitta constitution (dosha), pitta season, pitta age, and pitta time of the day (10 am-2 pm and 10pm-2am). Because of its elemental makeup, pitta is sharp, penetrating, hot, light, intense, acidic, and pungent. There are foods and beverages that increase pitta, and there are items that decrease pitta.

Sure, if you are predominantly pitta, you are more likely to experience an imbalance during summer season … but an inadequate lifestyle can create a pitta imbalance in anyone, no matter their dominant dosha.

Vasant Lad
Vasant Lad. Pic courtesy ayurveda.com

Many factors, both internal and external, act upon us to disturb this balance and are reflected as a change in one’s constitution from the balanced state,” says Dr. Vasant Lad, founder of the Ayurvedic Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico. “Examples of these emotional and physical stresses include one’s emotional state, diet and food choices, seasons and weather, physical trauma, work and family relationships.”

Think of a wedding in India and that one relative who after a few drinks too many and several kebabs becomes loud, arrogant, and caustic. That’s pitta not in harmony. Think of many world leaders like Barack Obama. Bright, compassionate, articulate, and ambitious. When pitta is in balance, it can bring about courage, leadership, strong digestion and elimination, a good sense of humor, love, and luminosity.

When pitta is imbalanced, it can show up as the drunk, mean uncle at a wedding, or as follows:

  • Impatience
  • Acne/rashes
  • Perfectionist tendencies
  • Judgmental and critical of self and others
  • Sudden bursts of anger
  • Sarcasm in conversations
  • Indigestion/acid reflux
  • Diarrhea
  • Blaming others
  • Body odor
  • Increased intensity
  • Loose stools
  • Burning or itching skin
  • Red burning eyes

Much of Ayurveda’s wisdom is based on the philosophy that “like increases like.” For the July 4th barbecue, imagine it’s 90 degrees Fahrenheit outside. Think of what happens if a fiery, temperamental person eats hot, spicy, fermented foods. Think spicy wings or vegetarian bean chili layered with jalapenos and cayenne pepper or sauerkraut with their hot dog. In addition, this person drinks beer or wine under the blazing sun or decides to go for a run in the peak heat of the afternoon during a heat wave? They will only get hotter and more irritable. Like increases like. This person might get diarrhea or nausea or heartburn or acidity. Their skin might develop rashes. An excess of this dosha can manifest in symptoms such as irritation, excessive body heat, and digestive problems. This, my friends, is what pitta imbalance could look like.

If this person were to go for a swim, make time for play, eat ‘cooling’ foods like cucumber or drink peppermint tea, spend time in nature, and learn to not overexert, you will see a noticeable difference in their behavior, mood, and body. Now do you see why Ayurveda treats imbalances with their opposites?

After 14 -16 months of social distancing and solitary confinement, we have a holiday weekend where it feels OK to socialize with vaccinated folks outdoors.

Barbecues and outdoor gatherings are a true representation of the July 4th weekend. I don’t think any of us will ever take summer for granted after 2020. Be careful, stay cautious, and enjoy a blissful season.

Simple tips to keep your pitta in check this summer:

  1. Avoid the midday sun.
  2. Reduce sour, salty, and spicy foods.
  3. Reduce your intake of coffee and alcohol.
  4. Spend time swimming or in nature.
  5. Make time to rest and recuperate.
  6. Apply coconut oil to the skin if it gets itchy.
  7. Carve out time for daily meditation. It lowers mental and emotional temperature.
  8. Good cooling yoga asanas include the fish, camel, boat, cobra, cow, and tree poses.
  9. Practice Sheetali Pranayama.
  10. Spend some time reflecting before going to bed.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

“The great thing about Ayurveda is that its treatments always yield side benefits, not side effects.” ~ Shubhra Krishan