In Ayurveda we talk about the “tri-doshic” theory. The 3 doshas are vata, pitta and kapha.
The doshas are used as reference points to understand the natural qualities that are inherent in, among other things, seasons of the year and a person’s constitutional make up.
Every person has all 3 doshas as a part of their constitutional make up but in varying amounts. Usually one or two of the doshas are more prominent than the third.
All 3 doshas can show up in the body as “balanced” or “out of balance”. When a dosha is balanced it’s positive attributes will present themselves in the body, mind and emotions; when a dosha is out of balance it’s negative aspects will be what shows up. The dosha(s) that are the most prominent within a person’s constitution are the most likely to go out of balance.
SUMMER AND PITTA DOSHA
The season of summer is associated with pitta dosha, therefore summer has the tendency to offset the balance of the pitta nature that is present in each of us. People that have a predominant amount of pitta in their constitution are the most likely to get spun out in a pitta kind of way.
Physiologically, pitta provides your body with heat and energy to digest food into nutrients so they can be absorbed and assimilated into the tissues of the body. In fact, pitta governs the very act of transformation in the body and mind.
Psychologically, pitta is associated with the intellect and perception. The balanced mental attributes of a pitta individual are: a joyful disposition, a keen intellect, tremendous courage and a motivated drive.
However, if the fire of pitta burns too hot the joyousness quickly becomes a sharp and biting tongue. Anger, rage, frustration and manipulation will overpower pitta’s positive attributes; the result is an individual who is not only overbearing towards others, but also on the fast track towards burnout.
THE SELF DEGRADING RESULTS OF DERANGED PITTA
From my mid 20’s to mid 30’s I was often on edge, brooding frustration under the surface, sometimes snappy-snarly to the people I cared about the most.
In hindsight I can see I was unnecessarily stressed, stuck within chaotic cycles: unhealthy expressions of my intensity followed by shame.
Mid way through that 10 year span my body started to show me obvious symptoms of pitta out of balance: chronic muscle tension and pain, sinus + ear + urinary tract infections, skin rashes, cold sores and night sweats.
Unaware of how to do things differently I used food, occasional alcohol and excessive marijuana to chill out, simultaneously avoiding my body’s call for help. At the age of 34, after divorce and immense hardship, I was ready for change; I didn’t want to numb out or avoid what I was feeling any longer.
Shortly thereafter I attended yoga teacher training, gathering new tools for self awareness; I began to unravel the damage I had done.
Because I had allowed my — out of balance — symptoms to linger and perpetuate for so long, it took years to bring my body back to a state of balanced health. The first step was consciously coming to terms with the reality of ill health; the next step was to begin the process of refining my lifestyle, diet and daily habits.
I’m grateful to say I’ve turned around the unsavory symptoms I mentioned earlier; I can now detect the earliest signs of my pitta out of balance and I’m able to address them when they’re relatively minor.
There was another gem in all of this. Learning about my pitta nature allowed me to let go of shame about my past that I was needlessly carrying.
Instead of seeing my history as a story filled with character flaws — I see that my behaviors were symptoms of a deeper imbalance — knowing this made it easier to forgive myself and move forward.
I won’t go back to being ashamed of my actions. In part, that’s what fuels my deeper motivation to stay alert for symptoms of imbalance when they are small, and most importantly, to address them before they get worse, causing a bigger mess to clean up.
Learning about the qualities of deranged pitta dosha helped me to not take my history of bitchy moods so personally; I realized that my actions weren’t character flaws.
Now when I feel myself getting stuck in an “I’m right” state of mind or if I catch myself beginning to ride an edge of self-righteousness as fuel to be super productive — I realize that my fiery pitta needs some cooling, play and sweetness. Pronto!
OVER TO YOU
I’ve outlined 5 tips for avoiding deranged pitta dosha in the season of summer. As you step into your summer these actions will help you keep your pitta in a place of joy, beautiful drive and radiant intellect. Take a stand for balanced pitta — the world and your loved ones need your courageous, authentic drive!
Take Refuge From The Hottest Heat
Enjoy the sun early or late, not in the middle of the day. Exercise early. Don’t run, hike, boat or lay out when the sun is high in the sky — you’ll be irritable by afternoon. Head for cool waters and shady spots midday; spend extra time there to lower your body temperature.
Give Your Skin Air, Mists and Cooling Plants
Massage coconut oil into your skin; in addition to moisturizing, coconut oil it has a cooling effect. Spritz rose water on your skin; the soft, sweet scent cools the flames. Dilute 10 drops of peppermint essential oil with a teaspoon of coconut oil; rub some onto the back of your neck and massage it into your feet. Avoid tight fitting synthetic clothing (eh-hem… yoga pants); instead drape yourself in loosely fitting linen, hemp, cotton and silk.
Create your own cool from the inside out by enjoying juicy, cooling foods: melons, cucumbers, mint, aloe vera, cilantro, summer squash, seasonal berries and peaches that drip down your arm. What’s growing *right now* in your neighborhood? Eat that. Barbecuing? Make sure to have loads of summer veggies to accompany meats if you’re eating them, or make veggies the main dish! Grains, beans and nuts are winter staples – summer is the season of eating fresh plant foods.
Wind Down In The Evenings
If you fill summer with busyness from dawn till dusk you will burnout by autumn! Enjoy yourself this summer; define your easeful pace and follow it. Eat dinner early then use the evenings for leisure: play outside, have a walk in nature, poke around in the garden, enjoy nurturing the people you love. Make a ritual of watching the sun set; let it take your energy down with it so you can be ready for sleep, even though the daylight hours are long.
Drink Cooling Beverages
Refresh yourself with non-alcoholic spritzers made with sparkling water, mint, cucumber, lime, rose petals, lavender, coconut water and maybe a few berries smashed up. (Not all those things at once but get creative with your combos). As fun and refreshing as it may seem alcohol will only add to + fuel your pitta fire; try temperance.
Hi Sarah! I really appreciated your summary of this post before class the other day — so much so that I paraphrased parts of the “Over to you” section for a blog post on the Library site (linked back to this post) — I hope that’s OK… I thought it would be good to get this information out to as many people as possible!
Absolutely Vanessa! Thanks so much for sharing the good word.