Ayurveda 101: Deep Dive Into Pitta Dosha

Our band of elemental warriors is starting to form, as previously you learned all about Vata. A combination of Space & Air, Vata is the energy that stirs up limitless potential, big thinking, and a colorful future. Though amazing initiators, Vatas sure do need help in plucking an idea down from the cosmos and putting it into action.

That is exactly where the second mind/body constitution, Pitta, can really shine! Recall the physical and subtle characteristics of the Mahabhutas fire and water, as we meet this next Dosha.

PITTA // Fire + Water
Pronounced Pi-tah (the ‘I’ is short, as in the word sit) 

Pitta in the Mind

Natural Expression—Just like the fire that makes up half of its constitution, Pitta people are radiant, magnetic, and infinitely passionate. In the same way that folks gather around a campfire at night or moths are drawn to light of a flame, people are drawn to the light and vibrant energy of Pittas. They are extremely charismatic and intelligent.

Pittas enjoy the finer things in life and surround themselves with objects that improve their overall reputation and sense of self-worth. They are competitive by nature and always aim for the gold.

When we combine fire and water we get steam. Steam is such a mighty force that we can power entire freight trains with it. This directedness and decisiveness is very much reflected in the personality of Pitta. They are very confident and self-assured, making decisions swiftly and taking immediate action. As a result, Pittas make extremely successful leaders. They thrive in that take-charge environment. Generally, others love to follow a Pitta because they know exactly where they are going. And they’re going there with remarkable, motivated conviction.

Pitta’s primary motive is to influence others.

Excess Accumulation—This directedness can quickly turn into too much force in an excess of fire and water. Pittas can become so assured of their vision, their idea, their methodology, that they adopt a “my way or the highway” dictator mentality. This not only pushes their followers away, but closes the Pitta off to other potential solutions because they become so rigidly focused on the one solution.

In this space, Pitta becomes quite impatient with the ideas and input of others. If enough steam accumulates, we experience aggression, irritation, and a very short temper. There is a phrase that in the face of too much Pitta, these otherwise loveable leaders can scorch the entire village.

Over-expressed Pittas can become so focused on “being the best” that they create unnecessary competition in their lives with family, friends, colleagues, or even clients. They may climb over anyone and anything to get to the top, with little concern for who gets burned or hurt along the way.

Excess Pitta will always reflect outward in stressful situations and ask, “What did YOU do wrong??”

Pitta in the Body

Natural Expression—The physical qualities of fire and water contribute to a body type that is strong, sturdy, and hot. Pitta bodies often have athletic medium frames and natural muscle definition. Feet and hands are always warm, and Pitta generally has red, freckled skin, with perhaps even red hair to match.

The digestion of a Pitta is very strong as well. They can eat just about anything and become hungry very frequently throughout the day because their metabolism works so quickly.

Pittas are thoughtful and methodical in their gestures and have a penetrating gaze. Just as they metabolize food quickly, they are able to metabolize the benefits of sleep in a rapid manner. They fall into a deep sleep quickly and often need just 5-6 hours to feel rested and rejuvenated.

Excess Accumulation—Irritation and inflammation of any kind is the most common indicator of excess Pitta in the body. Conditions such as acne, eczema or skin rashes can occur, as well as premature balding. It’s as if the excess heat within is burning the hair right off a Pitta’s head.

Excess Pitta disrupts a healthy digestion by instigating acid reflux, heartburn, or ulcers. The metabolism may be working on hyper-drive, leaving a Pitta to feel ravenously hungry throughout the day and having bowel movements several times. In this state, the body processes food so quickly that it doesn’t even have time to absorb the nutrients from food.

The normal intense movements of a Pitta can lead to migraines, hot flashes, over-active blood pressure, or a general sense of toxic build-up and discomfort.

How can we best harness and support Pitta?

Whether you are a Pitta or not, again we see that our society greatly influences our level of exposure to this energy. We’re taught from a very early age to do more, achieve greater things, create more impressive empires and rise, rise, rise. There is a general sense of competitiveness built right into our culture. In a healthy balanced state, Pitta should be celebrated and encouraged to continue driving us forward and instigating the evolution of our best selves.

When in excess, however, we’ve got to temper Pitta so that life can remain playful and joyful. The five senses are our ally in pacifying the accumulated Dosha, which we’ll dive into shortly. For now, a few key words can inspire Pitta-balancing activities.

Soothing. Cooling. Collaboration. Playfulness.

  • Challenge yourself to:
  • Spend time in or near water once a week, such as a river, an ocean, or a pool.
  • “Burn off” some energy with non-competitive activities like yoga, running, swimming, or dancing.
  • Allow a family member/colleague/client to take the reins on a decision and go with their flow.