Understanding Your Pitta Dosha

Pittas are sharp thinkers. When out of balance, however, they can be short-tempered. Learn the physical and emotional characteristics of this dosha and what you can do to keep it in balance.

What Does Pitta Mean?

Pitta dosha is created from the elements of fire and water, with fire being predominant. Thus, Pitta regulates all metabolic processes in the body as well as body temperature and our hormonal balance. It controls how we digest foods, how we metabolize our sensory perceptions, and how we discriminate between right and wrong. Hunger, thirst, and even intelligence are associated with Pitta.

If you are Pitta-predominant, your body likely has an athletic build. Your mind is sharp and your intellect is strong. Though you may be prone to workaholic tendencies, you are a perfectionist and get the job done. Your body may run warm, your skin might be a bit sensitive, and sleep might be interrupted.

Qualities of Pitta:

  • Hot
  • Light
  • Intense
  • Penetrating
  • Pungent
  • Sharp
  • Acidic

Pittas have a powerful intellect and a strong ability to concentrate. When they’re in balance, they are good decision makers, teachers, and speakers. They are precise, sharp-witted, direct, and often outspoken. Out-of-balance pittas can be short-tempered and argumentative.

Understanding Imbalances in the Pitta Dosha

Imbalances in the doshas are generally caused by unsupportive diet and lifestyle choices, as well as stress or emotional trauma. These disturbances tend to upset the natural state of internal equilibrium represented by one’s constitution. When the doshas become aggravated, each of them disrupts the body in its own unique way.

When pitta is in excess, a person will feel anger, hostility, and judgment. They will be argumentative, controlling, and experience intolerance of delays. Inflammation, infections, fever, acne, and excessive hunger or thirst may exist. Intolerance of heat, bloodshot eyes and migraines are common when pitta is out of balance. When out of balance, Pittas may suffer from skin rashes, burning sensations, peptic ulcers, excessive body heat, heartburn, and indigestion. When pittas are overstressed their typical response is, “What did you do wrong?”

Since the attributes of pitta are oily, hot, light, mobile, dispersing, and liquid, an excess of any of these qualities aggravates pitta. Summer is a time of heat, the pitta season and can cause the most imbalances.

How to Balance Pitta

Pitta is hot, sharp, sour, pungent, and penetrating. To balance pitta, make choices that are cooling, sweet, and stabilizing. For people with very pronounced Pitta, it is very important to avoid extremes. Exercise is good for the Pitta type to blow off steam, but the best activities are those of moderate exertion such as jogging, dancing, or cycling. 

Wear breathable natural fibers that have a cooling effect, such as cotton and linen.

Favor cooler colors in your clothing and environment such as blues, greens, and silver. Learn more about color therapy here.

Balance rest and activity, allowing some free time every day. Be careful not to create unnecessary time pressures for yourself. Learn more about how to build a routine for your dosha here.

Perform a Pitta oil massage using cooler oils such as coconut or olive. Learn more about the benefits of a Pitta oil massage here.

Regularly spend time in nature. Take walks in the woods and along natural bodies of water. Keep plants and fresh flowers in your home and office. Walk in the moonlight.

Pranayama: Try cooling breathing techniques, like Sitali, which cools the body by inhaling through the mouth and exhaling through the nose.

Nutritional Guidelines for Pitta

A pitta individual does well to have fresh, cooling foods. Pittas can be soothed by a predominantly vegetarian diet, bitter vegetables are preferable. Because the sweet, bitter, and astringent tastes decrease pitta, these tastes should be predominant in your diet. The food should not be too spicy, salty, or sour (rather cool in summer and hot in winter). Alcohol-free beverages (a beer from time to time) and the occasional use of stimulants like coffee and tea are recommended.

Bitter, sweet, and astringent tastes calm pitta, so eat more foods like apples, grapes, zucchini, lettuce, cucumbers, cilantro, and fresh organic dairy. 

Favor naturally sweet foods like sweet fruits, most grains, squashes, root vegetables, milk, ghee, and fresh yogurt. This does NOT mean eat large amounts of refined sugar or sugary sweet foods; naturally sweet foods are best.

The bitter taste is exceptionally cooling, drying, and cleanses the pallet and improve the sense of taste. The bitter taste predominates bitter greens—like kale, dandelion greens, and collard greens.

Pitta benefits from the compressing, absorbing, union-promoting nature of the astringent taste. 

Avoid pungent flavors. Pungent is a spicy, hot flavor like that found in chilies, radishes, turnips, raw onions, and many especially heating spices.

Pitta is balanced by the sweet, bitter, and astringent tastes and aggravated by the pungent, sour, and salty tastes. Understanding these tastes allows us to make better choices. Find a full food guide for Pitta here.

General guidelines for balancing pitta:

  • Keep yourself cool, mind, and body.
  • Enjoy sweet and soothing music, smells, scenes, and company.
  • Balance rest and activity.
  • Establish regular meal times, especially lunch at noon. Don’t skip meals.
  • Reduce mental stress with meditation and/or gentle yoga.

According to the Ayurveda, we are all ruled by three different energies, or doshas, known as vata, pitta, and kapha. These doshas are governed by the elements, earth, water, air, ether, and fire. We’re all made up of a unique combination of these three forces. If you don’t know which dosha is most predominant for you, the Ayurvedic Body Type quiz is a fun and easy way to find out.