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Archive for the ‘Pitta’ Category

Take a cooling bath in a lake with friends

So here we are in the dog days of summer. As the heat and humidity reach their pinnacle in the world around us, so does Pitta within us. Have you felt any of the following signs of high Pitta recently?

  • Rashes or redness in the skin
  • Hot flashes
  • Impatience
  • Acid reflux or heartburn
  • Irritability over little things
  • Road rage
  • Inflammation

Pitta is easily elevated in anyone this time of year in the Northern Hemisphere, but even more so for those who have a significant proportion of Pitta in their baseline constitution, or prakriti.

Here are some quick solutions to bring that inner fire down fast:

  1. Spritz pure rose water over your face and eyes for an instant cool-down
  2. Drink coconut water or cucumber water (soak a few organic cucumber slices in a cup of water overnight) – both help cool you from the inside out
  3. Avoid spicy salsas and chili peppers, as well as acidic foods like tomato sauce, kombucha and grapefruit
  4. Schedule regular “computer screen vacations” throughout your work day, and then soothe your eyes (an organ with high concentrations of pitta) by gazing at an image of nature, especially bodies of water, or simply “palming” the eyes to let them rest in darkness
  5. Instead of lemonade, which is heating due to the sour taste, drink limeade (it is lime’s prabhav or mysterious effect that it is cooling despite being sour)
  6. Practice sheetali pranayama: roll your tongue like a straw (or press the tip of your tongue against the back of your top teeth) and breathe in through the mouth so air rushes over the tongue, then breathe out through the nose. Wait for the next inhale to arise naturally so you don’t hyperventilate. Do 12 slow rounds, then sit quietly. (This is a great antidote when someone cuts you off in traffic!)
  7. Create a little space in your schedule – give yourself extra time to get to an appointment, or block off a half hour at the end of your work day to close up loose ends before starting your commute
  8. Wear cooling colors like green and blue
  9. Sit for five minutes of stillness in the morning simply observing the breath, bringing the mind back to the breath each time it wanders
  10. When the critical or judgmental mind starts talking in your head, say to yourself, “Ah, my Pitta must be high!” and wait for a cooler moment before sharing your thoughts.

With a little forethought, we can anticipate high Pitta and take steps in advance to pacify it. Most importantly, be gentle with yourself. Stop working so hard (in all arenas) and remember that summer CAN be an invitation to adventure and fun. Put your feet up and kick back, even for five minutes – your Pitta will thank you.

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Join me for a free webinar “Deepen Your Yoga with Ayurveda” on Tuesday, Aug. 21, at 7pm CDT (8pm EDT, 5pm PDT). Register and get more information here: http://ivyingram.com/free-webinars/

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In the last few posts, we’ve been learning about Vata Dosha, the energy of Air and Space. Today, we dive into the fire of Pitta Dosha.

Pitta – The Energy of Fire and Water

The word Pitta comes from the Sanskrit root tap, meaning fire or heat. This is the same root that the term tapas (discipline) comes from, which refers to the burning passion of commitment and dedication.

Pitta is predominantly the energy of the element Fire, although there is also a little bit of Water energy in Pitta as well. Just like a physical flame, Pitta transforms matter from one form to another. We can see Pitta at work in the daily transformative power of our own metabolism and digestion.

The qualities of Pitta are oily, sharp, hot, light (in both senses: light-weight and bright), pungent in odor, spreading and liquid. A Pitta-dominant person typically has a medium-framed body, red-toned oily skin, quick digestion with a ravenous appetite, balding or prematurely grey hair, and a sharp intellect. When the weather is hot and humid, Pitta is dominant in the environment. (Hello, summer in central Texas!)

In the human body, Pitta is responsible for metabolism and maintaining healthy temperature. Its functions include digestion, absorption, assimilation, cellular metabolism, vision, and maintaining healthy skin. Importantly, it is also responsible for the digestion of information or experience into emotions and knowledge.

People with Pitta as their dominant dosha tend to be interested in matters of the mind, sometimes at the expense of the body. They can have fiery emotions, full of passion, and they can be competitive or even aggressive in communication, invested as they are in persuading their listeners. Their drive and motivation is strong and goal-directed.

Stay tuned to learn what happens when Pitta dosha gets out of balance.

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A pivotal concept in Ayurveda is the theory of the tridosha. This theory explains how and why energy moves in nature in certain ways.

Since humans are part of nature, this system also describes us. For example, it gives a rationale for why some people always get heartburn after eating tomato sauce, while others don’t.

The word dosha refers to an organizing principle or pattern. The ancient teachers noticed that certain qualities show up in nature together like a constellation and move in predictable ways.

They observed three primary organizing patterns in the world, and they correspond to the major elements. Since there is no equivalent concept in the English language, we use the Sanskrit terms for these three forces: Vata, Pitta and Kapha.

Vata dosha is made of the elements Air and Space (or Ether). Vata is the most mobile dosha (like air), and it is involved whenever there is movement – when wind blows the trees, when a rabbit’s leg muscles contract and he leaps, or when someone sneezes a piece of dust out of their nose.

Pitta is made primarily of Fire (although there is a little Water in there, too). In any instance of heat or transformation, Pitta is at work – when the sun heats the desert floor, when an apple core decomposes in your compost, or when your face flushes as you step up to the karaoke mic.

Kapha includes the qualities of Water and Earth. The heaviest dosha, Kapha is present wherever there is stability and structure – in the form of a boulder, or the stillness of sleep. Kapha also governs lubrication, both the moisture in the atmosphere and the moisture in the body.

The three doshas interact and influence each other in nature to maintain an overall equilibrium, balancing out each others’ qualities. At times, one dosha will be dominant, and then naturally give way to another dosha, creating a dynamic yet balanced whole. It is a beautifully comprehensive and complex system, which becomes clearer the more you learn about it and look for it (I promise!).

In subsequent posts, I will dive deeper into each dosha and explore how they govern the activities of our bodies and minds. Until then, let me know if you have any questions in the comment section below. I look forward to hearing from you!

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As an entrepreneur stepping back into the world of figuring out how to make an income, I have been spending a lot of time these days trying to accomplish, to create outlines and spreadsheets and sequential to-do lists, and to cross things off – my Pitta energy has been hard at work. I can feel this activity in my brain, behind my eyes, driving forward without regard for anything below my neck. It is all about thinking things through, making a plan, striving towards perfection. It is hard work. As one of my teachers said, “Pitta gets the job done, dragging the bloody body behind it.” Body? What body?

As I tell my clients, however, we are born with access to many strategies to move through life, strategies inherent in the three doshas that we embody. Creating a list and crossing things off, you could say, is the Pitta strategy. (Perhaps my fellow Pitta-dominant folks out there are familiar with this method.) Blessedly, we can call upon our non-dominant doshas to step up if we are overusing one strategy and getting out of balance. I realized I had fallen into the mire when I literally could not remember the last time I went outside just to take a walk.

So this week, I am reminding myself of the Vata way to move forward in a project, a more creative and spontaneous method that is less organized, but can be equally (if not more) powerful when I have driven myself into the ground and all I can see are dreary numbered lists in front of me.

Vata dosha is composed of the air and ether qualities, and consequently it can’t be lined up or pinned down. It flows and moves effortlessly around obstacles rather than beating its head against a closed door. One of its qualities is lightness – the opposite of heaviness, which can be useful, but also full of illumination and brilliance. It is the unexpected flash of insight, the colorful spark. It is quick and mobile, darting around and escaping stagnation.

When I start depending on my Pitta one-track-mind to move through my life, I need to be shaken up a bit. By relying solely on one strategy for “making progress” in my fledgling business or indeed my fledgling life as a newcomer to Austin, I need a reminder of the restorative power of flow and spontaneity.

Nature offers an easy, instant system reboot. Surrounded by trees, plants and things that move in cycles, I am reminded that life exists outside of my head, that I have a place in the world, that I am already “there.”

Here.

Sometimes all it takes is remembering to look up as I get out of the car in the parking lot.

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