As a Pitta type, you’re blessed with a naturally strong and agile build, and you probably like to move and sweat. This is good news. As thousands of studies show, physical activity is one of the most powerful ways to create radiant health and emotional well-being. Here are just a few of the physical and mental benefits of regular exercise:
- Decreased depression and anxiety
- Increased resilience to stress
- Improved sleep
- Sharper focus and decreased symptoms of attention deficit disorder
- Increased metabolism and reduced obesity
- Greater bone density (from weight-bearing exercise)
- Improved cardiovascular function
- Decreased symptoms of PMS
- Greater cognitive ability and a decrease in brain-related illnesses such as Alzheimer’s
- Increased ability to give up addictions such as smoking and alcohol abuse
- Decreased blood pressure and cholesterol
In short, exercise makes you feel good. It can also slow down and even reverse the aging process. More than 5,000 years ago, the master Ayurvedic physician Charaka wrote, “From physical exercise, one gets lightness, a capacity for work, firmness, tolerance of difficulties, elimination of impurities, and stimulation of digestion.”
The Best Exercise for Pitta
There are two keys to creating a fitness plan: First, choose physical activities that you enjoy. If you don’t like running on a treadmill, you’re not going to stick with it for very long. The second key is to choose activities that are suited to your mind-body type. Since Pitta is your predominant dosha, you may be drawn to intense physical activity, including competitive sports, hot yoga, and endurance events such as triathlons or century bike rides.
Although Pitta types need an outlet for their competitive nature, it’s important not to increase your stress while you exercise. If you consistently push yourself too hard or get so caught up in heated competitions that you feel like throwing a tennis racket or golf club, you’re likely to suffer the symptoms of Pitta burnout.
Here are some Ayurvedic tips to keep your Pitta balanced while enjoying all the benefits of regular physical activity:
1) Favor cooling and calming activities. Spending time in or near water is wonderfully balancing for Pitta. Some of the activities that are a natural fit for Pittas include:
- Paddle boarding
You may also enjoy evening walks in the moonlight with a friend or loved one.
2) Satisfy your competitive nature. To satisfy your Pitta nature, competitive activities like tennis, basketball, and racquetball are also fine. Just be sure to follow a vigorous sport with something cooling, like a dip in the swimming pool or a soothing shower.
3) Exercise outside. When the weather isn’t too hot, exercise outdoors so that you can bring your attention into the environment and out of your busy mind. Natural beauty is calming for Pitta, and you will benefit from moving your body in beautiful outdoor locations such as a mountain lake, the seashore, or a botanical garden.
4) Stay cool. Since Pittas are easily fatigued by heat, take it easy in the summer and avoid overexerting yourself in the sun.
5) Balance intense efforts with recovery. If you regularly practice hot yoga or intense Vinyasa, try a restorative yoga class once or twice a week.
6) Try winter sports. As a Pitta type, you have the best tolerance for cold of all three doshas. As a result, you may especially enjoy winter sports such as …
As you engage in any physical activity, pay attention to how you’re feeling. If your jaw feels clenched and your whole body is tight with the effort to reach a goal or win a game, see if you can drop down in intensity and find more enjoyment. You can still be fully engaged in an activity without feeling pressure or stress. In fact, studies* of top athletes have found those who perform at the highest levels move in a state of flow, where they feel completely relaxed yet totally focused in the present moment.
*You can read more about the flow state in endurance sports in a well-researched and fascinating book by Steven Kotler called The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance.