09/19/2014 Mind-Body Health
The practice of self-care is essential for balancing all of the dosha types. For Pittas, the key to good self-care is moderation and rest.
One of the important goals of Ayurveda is being able to tune into yourself and become aware of the signs that you are getting out of balance so that you can make shifts to restore your natural equilibrium. As a Pitta, you are naturally energetic, but left unbalanced, that energy can lead to burnout. Self-care can help you keep your dosha in balance.
Not a Pitta?
The Importance of Self-Care
The practice of self-care is essential for balancing all of the dosha types. This means making your own health and well-being a priority. Although some of you have been conditioned to believe that taking time for yourself is selfish or indulgent, nothing could be further from the truth. If you neglect yourself and become depleted or ill, you won’t be able to fully express your love, creativity, and joy.
Each dosha expresses balance and imbalance in different ways. Here are the expressions of your predominant dosha, Pitta. As you read the descriptions, take note of the ones that best describe you.
A balanced Pitta feels …
An out-of-balance Pitta feels …
Would you say that you are currently more in balance or out of balance?
Balancing Pitta With Moderation and Rest
Of all the doshas, Pitta is gifted with the strongest inner drive, aggression, and energy. As a Pitta type, you relish challenges and play full out. But if you push yourself too hard, your fiery energy can veer into burnout and illness. The remedy is to begin to cultivate balanced habits, paying a little more attention to moderation and rest each day. Here are a few pointers that will help you balance Pitta.
Take time to wind down from activity. Alternating rest and activity is the rhythm of life. Since Pittas have so much capacity for activity, they tend to ignore the rest cycle of this rhythm. It’s important to find islands of calm throughout your day. Instead of cramming your schedule with back-to-back meetings and appointments, leave spaces for rejuvenation. Set aside time for short breaks to walk outside, meditate, listen to soothing music, and recharge. At the end of your workday, turn off your phone, resist the temptation to check emails, and don’t bring work home. Enjoy a quiet dinner and spend time with friends.
Meditate. Meditation will help you become an island of calm in the midst of whatever chaos is swirling around you. By its very nature, meditation takes you to the quiet place inside yourself and works gently to stem the fight-or-flight stress response. Your breathing and heart rate slow as your brain is triggered to release natural “feel good” chemicals that enhance your focus and well-being, including dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins.
Remember that rest is the source of dynamic activity. The secret of great runners in not in their stride, it’s in the power they gather inside themselves on the starting blocks before they take the first step. Through meditation, you will discover that the greatest personal power is achieved without aggression.
Try this: In a quiet place, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and go inward. Place your attention on your heart, in the center of your chest. Sit quietly and easily let your attention remain there. If it’s pulled away by random thoughts, sensations in your body, or noises in your environment, center yourself as soon as you notice what has happened. After a few minutes, open your eyes. For the next half hour or so, observe yourself to see if you remain centered. Don’t instantly throw yourself into external demands.
Keep cool. Coolness in any form will help to balance an overactive Pitta. Keep your bedroom cool when you sleep, and don’t linger in a hot bath because too much moist heat can make you feel nauseated or dizzy when Pitta is out of balance. If you feel overheated, put a cool compress on your forehead and the back of your neck, or drink some cool water. Ayurveda recommends avoiding ice water, which hampers the digestive fire.
Eat a Pitta-pacifying diet. Eat moderate-sized meals at regular hours three times a day. It’s important not to overeat, which Pittas tend to do if they push their excellent digestion too hard. At the same time, you don’t want to feel ravenously hungry as Pittas suffer if they have to skip a meal. If you have a runaway appetite, take a moderate approach to cutting back. Begin by eating gradually smaller meals, starting with about three-quarters of what you’re eating now. Consume this amount for a day or two, and then cut back to half of your normal consumption. In Ayurveda, the ideal meal size is the amount that will fill your two cupped hands. This quantity should leave enough room in your stomach for healthy digestion.
Tip: The taste of bitter foods curbs the appetite, so try drinking tonic water before a meal, or eating a salad of bitter greens, such as chicory, endive, radicchio, and romaine lettuce.
Focus your attention on beauty and laughter. Pittas have a natural love of beauty that is wonderfully fulfilled by spending time in nature. Enjoy nature’s beauty as often as possible: watch the sun set; go outside and gaze at the full moon; and take walks along the ocean and running water. Beautiful settings help Pitta people wind down and relax.
Pittas already know how to be serious, so they need the tonic of laughter more than any other type. Laughter releases stress and anger and softens Pitta’s edge. Aim to enjoy at least one good belly laugh every day. Try watching comedies, sharing your favorite jokes, and spending time with fun, playful people.
As you create rhythms and regularity that nourish your mind, body, and spirit, you will find yourself feeling more energized, balance, and healthy.