02/15/2016 Mind-Body Health
Too much Pitta can lead to irritability along with physical symptoms such as inflammation, skin rashes, and indigestion. Try these five massage and spa treatments to bring Pitta back into balance.
If you have a predominance of Pitta, you have a fiery nature in mind and body. When it’s in balance, you tend to be joyful, friendly, and energetic. Your digestion is strong, metabolism is efficient, and your mind is clear and focused. But too much Pitta can lead to impatience, irritability, and hostility, along with physical symptoms such as inflammation, indigestion, skin rashes, acne, infection, and fever.
Pitta is primarily associated with the element of fire. Its characteristics are hot, dry, light, unstable, and sharp. Since imbalances are treated with their opposites in Ayurveda, it’s of utmost importance for those with excess Pitta to stay cool—physically, psychologically, and energetically. Ayurvedic massage and spa treatments can also help pacify Pitta by loosening toxins for elimination and calming the nervous system without creating too much heat.
Indulge in one or more of the following Ayurvedic therapies—Garshana, Abhyanga, Vishesh, Shirodhara, and Marma therapy—to help return your body to balance and keep Pitta’s transformational fires under control.
Garshana is a rhythmic, dry massage that lightly exfoliates the skin. It’s usually done as preparation for bathing or oleation therapy—an application of medicinal or herbalized oils to the body. It can be done with cotton, silk, or wool gloves, or with a soft-bristled body brush. It gently sloughs off dead skin cells, improves circulation, and benefits Pitta types by assisting the movement of nutrients and removal of wastes and toxins. It’s easily self-administered, and is a perfect preparation for abhyanga massage, as follows.
In Abhyanga massage, warm herbalized oil is applied to the entire body in a vigorous, rhythmic fashion. It improves circulation of blood, lymph, and prana (life force, or subtle energy), and loosens toxins for elimination from the body. Its effects are revitalizing, relaxing, immunity-boosting, and detoxifying.
Moderate pressure and cooling oils such as sunflower, coconut, or olive should be used for Pitta dosha. In a spa setting, either one or two therapists can perform the treatment, but self-abhyanga is also highly beneficial and more cost-effective.
The long, deep strokes of Vishesh are perfect for Pittas, who tend to have good muscle tone and usually prefer deeper massage. Vishesh is a slower, firmer version of Abhyanga and has a more profound effect on individual muscles. It breaks up adhesions, elongates connective tissue, and flushes out deep-seated toxins, bringing in a fresh supply of nourishing blood and oxygen.
In a spa setting, it usually follows Abhyanga. The therapist will remove most surface oil, which allows more friction on the skin and deeper access to the muscle tissues. It’s rejuvenating, grounding, and deeply relaxing.
Typically performed after massage, Shirodhara involves pouring a steady stream of warm oil over the forehead, particularly over the Third Eye Chakra, known as Ajna. This produces gentle and soothing vibrations within the head, inducing a state of deep relaxation. Although commonly used for pacifying Vata, the profound, hypnotic stillness it creates is a wonderful antidote to the unstable aspect of Pitta as well.
Massaging marma points can have powerful physical and energetic effects on the body and are useful for balancing all three doshas. There are 107 of these energy gateways on the body, and when they become blocked, the flow of prana becomes compromised, and symptoms of discomfort and disease can follow.
For Pitta imbalances, specific points are gently stimulated using cooling essential oils. Marmas that are useful for pacifying pitta, include Shankha, which is on the temples at the outer edge of each eyebrow and decreases acidity in the body, and Nabhi, which is around the navel and enhances digestion.
The Chopra Center spa offers a signature 65-minute treatment called Odyssey Ayurvedic Massage, which combines Garshana, Abhyanga, Vishesh, and Marma therapy in progression, with the option of adding Shirodhara at the end for a powerful dosha-balancing experience.
For more information about Pitta and how to keep it in balance, try this daily routine.