Yoga for Pitta Dosha
Hi love! This is the second blog post in a three part series about the best yoga poses and practices for each dosha. All dosha mind-body types need to move every single day, and I of course recommend that absolutely everyone practices yoga in particular (and so does Ayurveda!). But not every yoga practice is going to benefit every person in the same way, because everyone is so different.
In the same way that different foods and lifestyle practices benefit different doshas to a greater or lesser degree, different yoga poses serve the doshas in different ways. Today we’re looking at Pitta dosha. This can be applied to your dosha imbalance (if you’ve got excess Pitta going on right now), or if you’re naturally a Pitta dominant person (your prakruti, or original, balanced constitution is mostly Pitta dosha), or if it’s Pitta season (which is summer).
A little recap on Pitta dosha: Pitta is made of fire and a little water. Pitta actually translates as bile, the alkaline fluid that’s created by the liver and stored in the gallbladder, but it’s more than that, too. It is the transformer, the doer, the metabolizer, the colorer. In the body, it’s what transforms our food into useful material and our sense impressions into memories and knowledge, and it’s the fire that warms and transforms us from the inside out. Pitta is hot, oily, light, unstable, subtle, and clear.
There are five subdoshas of Pitta. These subdoshas are essentially specific actions Pitta has on the body. They are as follows:
Pachaka Pitta: Located in the small intenstine. Pachaka is the fire behind digestion. It’s responsible for the assimilation and metabolism of our food. It makes sure our food is being broken down properly to receive its nutrients to form healthy tissues. An excess in Pachaka leads to burning indigestion, loose bowel movements, excessive hunger and thirst, and feeling hangry.
Alochaka Pitta: Located in the eyes. Alochaka metabolizes vision and is the overall functioning of the eyes. Excessive pitta in alochaka may manifest as near or far sightedness or bloodshot, tired eyes.
Sadhaka Pitta: Located in the mind. Sadhaka transforms our experiences into knowledge or wisdom. It is our ability to remember well, act within the moment, have strong discernment, and make proper decisions. You may have excess sadhaka pitta if you’re overly critical, demanding, judgmental, if you have excessive heated emotions like anger, rage, irritability or if you’re experiencing burnout.
Ranjaka Pitta: Located primarily in the liver. Ranjaka pitta invigorates the body. It’s known as the coloring pitta because it gives color to the tissues of the body. Ranjaka provides color to the eyes, hair, skin, urine, stools, blood, and all other tissues of the body. It’s the fire behind healthy, pure blood that is bright and free of toxins, and a healthy coloring of body. Excess ranjaka may be experienced as pigmentation issues, very dark stools or dark yellow or green urine, and toxins in the blood (which can manifest in many different ways).
Brajaka Pitta: Located in the skin. Brajaka transforms and takes in light. It provides a healthy, luminous glow to the skin, with the proper amount of oil. If you have excess brajaka pitta, you may experience skin rashes, acne, or very rosy or red complexion.
So with all of that in mind, yoga poses for Pitta dosha will target the liver, spleen, gallbladder, small intestines, and provide a soothing affect on the mind. We want to focus on stimulating the whole body without overheating or causing burn out.
Pitta needs to be mindful of maintaining both strength and suppleness, both igniting their fire and removing excess heat. It’s a sweet little dance. Ashtanga yoga is a wonderful practice for pitta dosha and definitely what I would recommend, because Ashtanga is such a beautiful dance between the masculine and feminine energies when practiced correctly. Pitta’s do well with Ashtanga as long as they stay soft within their thoughts surrounding the poses.
If not Ashtanga, then some sort of vinyasa, or even simple hatha yoga class is great too. It’s also really beneficial for pitta types to practice yin or restorative yoga on a regular basis to balance their yang energy out. It shouldn’t be their only practice unless they’re extremely imbalanced, but even then, it would be very temporarily the focus. Pitta’s need good, strong, stimulating movement everyday to keep them happy and balanced.
With pitta, we’re working on spreading our fire throughout the whole body and removing excess fire.
Specific poses that will target the pitta organs like the small intestines, liver, and spleen would be padmasana, ardha baddha padmotanasana, ardha baddha paschimottanasana, baddha konasana, eka pada raja kapotasana (both with the fold and with the deep back bend), anjanaysana, hanumanasana, and ustrasana. So deep back bends and poses that stimulate the liver and spleen. But like I mentioned, a full body yoga practice will be best for pitta— spread the fire and remove excess heat.
For the eyes, making sure you’re dristhi is very pronounced (aka, where you’re looking during a pose— keep your gaze focused!), and spending some time looking toward your third eye, both with the eyes closed and open. Trataka is a wonderful practice for both alochaka and sadhaka pitta— this is where you stare and focus into the flame of a candle (or at some other specific point) as a form of meditation.
Pranayama: Breathing practices are a powerful way to balance the doshas and cleanse the body and mind. Be sure to check with your yoga teacher before taking on a pranayama practice, because they can be intense and aren’t always recommended to every student. That being said, here are some pranayama practices for pitta dosha:
Lunar pranayama-- Inhale through the right nostril and exhale through the left nostril or around five minutes or so.
Sitali pranayama— the cooling breath: Roll your tongue into a taco shape and slowly breathe in through the tongue. Breathe out through your nose and then repeat. Breathe like this for at least five minutes or so.
Some other considerations for pitta dosha exercise and wellbeing routines would be swimming and ice baths.
So just to recap: Pitta dosha finds balance with stimulating, full body yoga practices that don’t cause burnout or excess heat. The practice should spread the fire while also maintaining it. All poses are great for pitta, and they should spend time in all areas of the body, but spending extra time in deep backbends and poses like lotus or half lotus, which really stimulate the pitta organs, will be super beneficial. Breathing the cooling and lunar pranayama practices will immediately cool and soothe the body and mind. Keeping the eyes focused while practicing and spending some time on eye focused meditations will bring balance to alochaka pitta. Incorporate yin and restorative yoga into your routine to compliment your other physical practices in order to balance the yin and yang energy in the body.
That’s all for today! Reach out with questions and concerns. That’s what I’m here for. Happy practicing. :)