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Pitta Dosha Guide

Updated: Apr 26

Your essential guide to understanding and regaining balance of Pitta dosha. A must read for Pitta season, Pitta types, and Pitta imbalances.🔥Pitta governs metabolism and transformation through the seasons, stages of life, and even the times of day and night. Learn how to keep your cool and go with the flow year after year.


Bonus: Explore the five Pitta sub-doshas and eight ways to reduce Pitta with Ayurveda.

Pitta type woman smiilng

Explore more on the Saumya Blog, selected top Ayurveda blogs and websites to watch.



Pitta Dosha Guide


In the summertime, we absorb the hot, penetrating, slick qualities rising in the world around us. These elements can aggravate Pitta, the Ayurvedic dosha associated with the summer season. If your constitution is primarily Pitta, this shift can be particularly evident.


We’re often inherently unkind to ourselves and think in terms of deficits, symptoms and issues – especially when we’re dealing with changes we don’t understand. So, first things first: give yourself a break!

The three doshas (Pitta, Vata, and Kapha) are inherently neutral. They are merely the elements that comprise everything in the world around us, including ourselves. Your unique doshic makeup doesn’t manifest as “good” or “bad” traits – it manifests as, simply, who you are.


By appreciating how our dominant doshas influence our lives and bodies, we learn to value our true nature. From there, we can identify the symptoms, discomfort, and diseases that signal something’s out of whack – and regain balance.


“Throughout the consultation process, clients come to understand and appreciate - the fundamental value in their true nature. They realize, sometimes for the first time in their lives, that there’s nothing wrong with them – that who and how they are is wonderful.”

– Veena, Saumya Ayurveda

old fashioned brass key

Pitta governs metabolism and tranformation through the seasons, stages of life, and even the times of day and night. Let's explore each of those.


Key Pitta Dosha Characteristics


Pitta: That Which Transforms or Metabolizes


Fire and water combine to form Pitta dosha. A universal force of action/reaction, Pitta governs all transformations within the body and mind (think digesting thoughts, emotions, sunlight, and of course food). Pitta characteristics are hot, light, sharp, oily, liquid, and spreading.


In balance, Pitta energy is ambitious, discerning, charismatic, strong-willed, and insightful. Out of balance, it sparks heat in the body and mind (such as inflammation, indigestion, heartburn, and fiery emotional responses like jealousy, criticism, and anger).


Pitta dominant types are charismatic, natural-born leaders with sharp minds. Their passion and dedication are second to none; Pitta will stop at nothing to bring its big ideas to life. Pitta types run hot, which lends to their intense nature.


Vata governs movement through the seasons, stages of life, and even the times of day and night. Let's explore each of those.


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woman sweating in the summer sun

What is Pitta Season?


Depending on your location and the climate around you, Pitta season may vary. Generally speaking, it begins in late spring and goes through early fall. Pitta season is the period of the longest, hottest days of the year.


Pitta's qualities are: hot, light, sharp, oily, penetrating, liquid, and spreading. As such, summer is Pitta season. As Pitta in the environment increases, Pitta in us is likely to increase as well.


During this time, balanced, Pitta energy is ambitious, discerning, charismatic, strong-willed, and insightful. Out of balance, it sparks heat in the body and mind (such as inflammation, indigestion, heartburn, and fiery emotional responses like jealousy, criticism, and anger).

woman working at her laptop

What is Pitta Stage of Life?



Kapha Stage: Conception to the teen years, is dominated by Kapha. This period is permeated by Kapha’s qualities. (e.g., Think of a baby’s chubby thighs, then the child uses that tissue to stretch longer and leaner.)


Pitta Stage: Puberty to around menopause or age fifty, is under the direct influence of Pitta. This is an expansive period in which productivity (e.g., work, volunteering, networking, creating, building) and potentially reproductivity. Pitta stage is marked by an outward focus. During this time there is a natural increase in Pitta's qualities and today, we primarily experience Pitta's quality of intensity and often times that leads to burnout.


This stage of life is about growing up into adulthood, integrating experiences, our identity evolves as we come to understand our gifts and talents. This period of life is about accomplishment however one defines that for themselves. Ambition, achievement, and accomplishment are indicators of this stage of life. While some people in this period are intensely competitive and highly goal oriented, (that's Pitta being Pitta), it's clearly a period of life defined by doing-ness.


Vata Stage: From around age fifty to the last breath is governed by Vata. This is a period characterized by lightening up (e.g., down-sizing, bones lose density, sight may lighten requiring glasses, hearing as well, hair, and on the list goes).



“When I explain the Ayurvedic stages of life to clients, lightbulbs go off. It's intuitive and it provides us with a framework for life. Through the lens of Ayurveda, we see the opportunities and challenges of the stages with awareness and clarity. These insights provide us a conscious and balanced way of living.” – Veena, Saumya Ayurveda


What causes Pitta to aggravate? For those with Pitta constitution or imbalances, add Pitta season, and possibly a Pitta climate, Pitta stage of life, and that adds up to a whole lot of Pitta. Anyone, at any time, can develop a Pitta imbalance. Knowing the signs and symptoms of Pitta is important so you can recognize them early on. Maintaining balance of Pitta is key to avoid burn out and enjoy this rich, full stage of life.


old fashioned clock

Pitta Time of Day


The doshas dominate certain times of day, which is to say, there is more of that dosha present. When we are knowledgeable of these changes in energy, we understand how to work with them and not against them. When we flow in harmony with nature, we feel better and more balanced.


Pitta is dominant from 10:00-2:00 a.m. and p.m. Have you ever stayed up late experiencing a second wind--you got those taxes done finally, cleaned out the closet, you were a focused go-getter and it all happened with such ease. Two in the morning arrives and you're spent. What just happened?


Pitta governs metabolism, transformation, doing! You didn't have a second wind; you experienced a second fire of productivity. If you have a task at work that requires your strongest concentration, tackle that during Pitta hours. It's when we're at our sharpest, clearest, and most focused.


field of sunflowers

What is Ritucharya or Ayurvedic Seasonal Routines?


In Sanskrit, the word Ritucharya means to synchronize the body and mind to the changes naturally occurring. Sometimes we have a funny notion that we are separate from nature, but we're not. What happens in the environment has an influence on us.


We say, "I'm going for a walk in nature," yet we are nature--the fresh air we breathe in, is the air in our lungs, the calcium in the rock, is calcium in our bones and on it goes. The five elements, pancha mahabhuta that comprise the universe, are the same great elements from which we are made.


Depending on one's doshic picture, certain seasonal transitions have more influence.


For those with higher Pitta, the arrival of the heat, humidity, and intense sun is overwhelming and they cannot wait for the cellular relief that arrives with the first cool evenings of early autumn. Our aim in Ayurveda is to reduce Pitta dosha so each season can be pleasant and symptom-free.


Whether one welcomes summer with open arms, or find themselves experiencing Pitta signs and symptoms--it's a dramatic seasonal transition and we need to attend to our dinacharya (daily rhythm--see Morning and Evening routines) and our ritucharya--seasonal adjustments to our Ayurveda plan to maintain balance.


Little tweaks to our daily choices go a long way to keeping us balanced and feeling our best mentally and physically. As Benjamin Franklin said, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

woman having a hot flash

What are the Signs of Pitta Imbalance:

Body:

1. Red, burning, or irritated skin including eczema and dermatitis

2. Headaches with burning sensation and migraines

3. Rashes, response to insect bites

6. Inflammation or any of the"itis” conditions

7. Acne

8. Stomach heat increases, causing heartburn, acid reflux, GERD and ulcers

9. Hyperthyroidism

10. Loose stools (soft serve ice cream consistency) or diarrhea

11. Overactive metabolism

12. Nausea or discomfort upon missing meal

13. Heat avoidant or intolerant

14. Heavy, clotty cycles

15. Interrupted sleep

17. Inflammation in the body can lead to joint pain

18. Increased sweating and sour or foul body odor.

19. Increased hunger and thirst

21. Excessive thirst, unquenchable thirst

22. Autoimmune disorders

23. Fevers

24. Acute inflammation of the joints

26. Sun avoidant


graphic of Pitta person balanced list and out of balance list

Mind:

29. Workaholic tendencies

31. Jealousy

32. Impatience, criticism, and intolerant

33. Overly attached to goals

34. Ego inflamed

35. Controlling, fiery personality


woman balancing on rocks

How Do I Know If I Have a Dosha Imbalance?

Peruse these comprehensive and convenient lists of signs and symptoms of dosha imbalances.


As we are all comprised of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, there can be an imbalance in any of the doshas, or a combination of dosha imbalances. Read all three lists and see if anything looks familiar.


womman grabbing hair in frustration

Observable Pitta Dosha Characteristics

Each dosha manifests as observable qualities, which reflect what’s happening in our bodies and mind. If you’re a dominant Pitta type - or have Pitta-type conditions present - familiarize yourself with common Pitta dosha characteristics and what changes indicate a possible imbalance.


Pitta Body Type

Pitta body types tend to be medium-build with average muscle mass. Pitta bodies are fairly strong and resilient; less-so than sturdy Kapha but more than airy Vata types. Pitta dominant bodies have strong metabolisms.


Intense Pitta types are prone to insomnia and signs of premature aging are very common. Practice healthy sleep hygiene and a nourishing Ayurvedic morning routine. Mindful eating can help manage Pitta’s hearty appetite – slow down, and don’t eat when you’re rushed and frustrated. Take a moment before eating to relax, cool off and slow down.


Pitta Personality

Fiery and sharp, Pitta dosha characteristics are easily observed in a Pitta personality. Pitta-dominant types are naturally high energy, driven, competitive, and goal oriented – more than other types, they can be quick to anger, frustration, and irritability.


Bring balance to excitable Pitta through emotional cleansing lifestyle practices like pranayama breathing, yog-asana, and abhyanga massage.



woman with glasses reading a book


Pitta Nails

The color and texture of your nails can provide insight into your overall well being. For Pitta types, healthy nails will appear pink, oily, and shiny. The nails should be flexible and smooth with large half moons.


Learn more: Here’s what Ayurvedic nail analysis can tell you about your health.



Pitta nail characertistics graphic


Pitta Poo

It’s more than just poo! Our bowel movements offer insight into our internal health and doshic state. Balanced Pitta types will usually pass stool twice daily at regular intervals (usually in the morning and afternoon). Healthy Pitta poo will be brown-yellow and firm with a light odor.


When Pitta is imbalanced, stools will be loose, soft (even watery), yellowish, and stinky. You may experience more urgent or frequent bowel movements, bloating, or gas. Rebalance with a break from heating foods, alcohol, and caffeine.



Ayurveda stool anaylsis: poop characteristics by dosha type


Explore More:

Pitta Dosha Guide image Pitta Dosha Eye


Pitta Eyes

Ayurvedic eye analysis, known as Netra Pariksha, gives a glimpse into dosha imbalances, symptoms, and conditions. Pitta dosha characteristics of the eye include: medium in size and deeply set; red or yellow sclera/green or hazel iris; sensitive to light; medium and oily lashes; balanced brows.


You may experience red, itchy, or inflamed eyes if Pitta is out of whack. Bath the eyes with cool (not cold or hot) water in the morning while holding water in the mouth at the same time. Hold the water in the mouth for a few seconds and spit it out. Repeat 2-3 times.


Alochaka Pitta: Vision and Discernment

Alochaka Pitta influences how we see the world, both physically and psychologically. It governs visual functions, like our eyes and retina – but also our inner vision and discernment.


Balanced Alochaka Pitta powers Pitta dosha’s keen awareness. When balanced, this aspect of Pitta dosha accurately perceives the external world, judges right from wrong, and make senses of our inner and outer realities. Out of balance, we may have trouble analyzing or interpreting people and situations. We may also experience physical issues like eye infections and degraded vision.


Learn more: Here’s what Ayurvedic eye analysis can tell you about your health.


woman with reddish brown hair


Pitta Hair

In Ayurveda, hair appearance is not skin-deep – it’s a mirror of your overall well being. Pitta hair is often reddish-brown, medium thickness, straight, and silky. The scalp and hair are neither dry nor moist, though the hair can be prone to oiliness due to Pitta’s watery fiery, unctuous nature.


Imbalanced Pitta can lead to premature thinning and graying, and irritation or redness of the scalp. Massaging herbal oils directly into the scalp and hair helps pacify agni. Book a free consultation to learn what oil may be beneficial to you.



Pitta Voice

The way we speak reflects our inner world. Pitta dosha characteristics include sharp, loud, and focused voices – just like Pitta’s mind. With big thoughts and intense feelings, Pitta may sometimes dominate conversations or interrupt.


If imbalanced, Pitta may be argumentative, impatient, or complete other’s sentences. Meditation and diaphragmatic breathing can help soothe an agitated inner-dialogue and impulsive feelings.



hands making the shape of a heart


Sadhaka Pitta: Heart and Consciousness

Another important Pitta subdosha governs our brains and hearts. Sadhaka Pitta controls how we metabolize emotions and stress – and acts as a direct line to our inner consciousness. The saying, "She's all heart" means that person has a kind and generous disposition or nature--in other words, balanced Pitta dosha, specifically Sadhaka Pitta.

Balanced Sadhaka Pitta keeps our minds in tune, alert, and connected. It clears tamas, or darkness of the heart, so we can bloom into our most awakened and radiant selves. Out of balance, we may have trouble letting go, ruminate on negative thoughts, or experience mood swings.


skin with a heart drawn on it

Bhrajaka Pitta: Skin & Touch

Bhrajaka Pitta subdosha rules our skin - our largest organ - and sense of touch. We don't think of our skin as a vehicle of ingesting and digesting, yet skin metabolizes such things as touch, sunlight and air. Our skin covers and protects our entire body, and everything within it. It is through this complex organ that we encounter and experience the physical world.

We may say an experience gave us goosebumps, or made the hair stand on end--responses which result from intense fear, anxiety, excitement or delight. Through Bhrajaka Pitta, we are taking in and assimilating experiences.

Like Pitta dosha, Bhrajaka Pitta is associated with how we absorb and disperse heat and moisture. In balance, our skin is supple, hydrated, and bright. Out of balance we may develop rashes, discoloration, and even cancers of the skin.


image of heart and vessels


Ranjaka Pitta: Blood & Circulation

Ranjaka Pitta governs how blood forms and circulates through our body and organs. In Sanskrit, the word Ranjaka means “coloring agent.” Accordingly, Ranajaka Pitta colors our inner and outer physiology.

In balance, Ranjaka Pitta maintains healthy pigmentation - from our hair and skin tone to our bowel movements and urine - and optimal blood function. Out of balance, we may experience issues of the blood, such as liver malfunction or anemia. We may also experience discoloration of our hair, skin, and bowel movements.


woman with heartburn


Pachaka Pitta: Stomach & Digestion

Pachaka Pitta governs digestion from within the small intestine. In Ayurveda, digestion is considered the bedrock of our health. Plus, Pitta dosha is deeply associated with agni, our digestive fire. Thus, Pachaka Pitta has a profound influence on all other forms of Pitta.


Pachaka Pitta enables proper digestion and absorption of the foods that nourish our entire being. As Pachaka Pitta is a foundational subdosha, Pitta imbalances are often first observed as digestive issues.


There comes a day if Pachaka Pitta begins to aggravate, that we may notice, or not, a general sense of heat in our belly, we may pass it off as something we ate or drank. Left unchecked, Pitta dosha continues to aggravate in the lower stomach and small intestine, it may manifest as hyperacidity, or looser stools. Check out our article on Poo Analysis with Ayurveda: What Your Poop Says About Your Health to learn more.


image saying helpful tips

Pitta Dosha Tips to Reduce Pitta


8 Ways to Reduce Pitta and Heat with Ayurveda


Believe it or not, it’s easy to get heat out of the body with Ayurveda. Here are eight powerful, yet manageable, ways to reduce Pitta dosha and chill out:


  1. Eat Cooling, Pitta-Reducing Foods

  2. Do Light Exercise in the Morning or Evening

  3. Reduce Pitta with Ayurvedic Self-Oil Massage

  4. Dress in Pitta-Cooling Clothing

  5. Hydrate with Cooling Herbs

  6. Reduce Intensity in the Mind and Life

  7. Practice Pranayama Breathwork

  8. Find Balance with Nasya Oil


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“I have suffered from chronic headaches and migraines for as long as I can remember. I had talked to multiple PCPs and specialists about these issues, had been prescribed a variety of medications that helped somewhat, but never really fixed the issue. Veena promptly put together a plan of action that consisted of herbal remedies alongside simple changes to my diet. Right away I noticed a significant decrease in the number of migraines, and when I did get them, they were much less severe than they had been in the past. This is certainly the migraine treatment plan that I have seen the biggest benefit from, and I plan to continue my new regimen moving forward. I am very thankful for Veena's knowledge and advice and would not hesitate to recommend her services to friends and family alike.” -Adrienne Sobering, Albuquerque, New Mexico

 

"I was dreading and anticipating hating a weeklong outside summer event. I’ve always hated summer. Hate being in the heat. Hate being in the sun. I am SO surprised! I enjoyed being there, being outside. I tolerated the high heat well and enjoyed the whole week. I was and am in a good mood. I was not affected by the heat and sun. And, for the first time in 46 years, I didn’t get sunburnt—I tanned! -- A.D. Minnesota

 

“I was inflamed. I had trouble keeping weight on, I was diagnosed with incurable ulcerative proctitus, my energy was very low, and I was taking medications daily for a skin condition, and I had severe migraines.


Following Veena’s guidance, all of these conditions have been nearly eliminated! The incurable ulcerative proctitus was given a Mayo Clinic Score of 0, normal or inactive disease.


I’m very grateful to Veena for the wonderful results and the healthier quality of life we have attained together. Without reservation, I highly recommend Veena at Saumya Ayurveda.”

---Chris Schirber, Yoga Teacher, Minnesota


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Veena at Saumya Ayurveda

Veena is a Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner and meditation teacher, and monk.


She is President Emeritus and teaching faculty of the Meditation Center.


Veena fell in love with the traditional medicine used in her family’s home, learning herbal remedies at her grandmother's knee.


These childhood experiences were the seeds of a lifelong passion. For over 30 years, Veena has dedicated her life to the world’s oldest healing system: Ayurveda.


She draws on this ancient wisdom to help others find their compass to a healthy life – and support those left wanting by Western medicine.


An experienced Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner, Veena’s deep, intuitive knowledge of Ayurveda empowers her clients to reclaim their fullest, most vibrant lives –mentally, physically, and spiritually. Veena individualizes treatment plans to each person, rather than offering a one-size-fits-all approach, so it fits your life and becomes woven in your lifestyle, naturally.

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