Cool Your Fire with Ayurveda

This article was written by the lovely Jenna Sullivan, a San Diego yoga teacher and nutritional consultant.

jennaAyurveda, which literally means “The Science of Life,” is an ancient system of natural healing that originated from the Vedic system of India several thousand years ago. Ayurveda focuses on being in harmony with natural cycles (including days and seasons) and views health as balance between our bodies, minds, spirits, and environments. Using natural methods, Ayurveda focuses not only on creating, but also maintaining optimal health and well-being in each person. Ayurveda sees the creation of health and/or disease as the result of how we interact with the world in regards to our thoughts, conditioning, feelings, beliefs, and perceptions, which eventually determine our actions.  Simply put, Ayurveda believes that when we are in harmony with our true and highest selves, we create health, and when we are out of touch with our inner nature, we create disease.

Within Ayurveda are the doshas:  three biological energies that are found in the human body and mind.  All physical, mental, and emotional processes are guided by the doshas. Each individual has some Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, but everyone has a unique proportion of these doshas.  This is called our Prakruti, which is our natural constitution at birth.  When we are in alignment with our Prakruti, radiant, glowing health ensues. When we deviate from our birth constitution, or Prakruti, we enter a state of imbalance, called Vikruti.  The doshas are dynamic energies and can change in response to our diets, our environment, our thoughts and actions, the seasons, and anything else that can be perceived.

In Ayurveda, the goal is to balance and pay special attention to the primary dosha.  Through a questionnaire, one’s primary dosha can be determined.  Summer is considered the time of Pitta. During this time of heat, it is easier for Pittas to become imbalanced and those having some Pitta within them can easily become imbalanced as well.  Eating spicy foods, drinking coffee, black tea, or alcohol, eating while angry, being overly competitive or working too much, or being around excessive sensory stimulation can all contribute to an imbalance of Pitta types.

Pittas (fire element) tend to be more on the intense side.  Pitta nature is transformational, giving light.  Pittas are generally of medium build, average weight, have oily skin, are good thinkers and tend to have more discrimination than the other doshas.  The qualities of Pitta are: Oily, Sharp, Hot, Light, Moving, and Liquid.

Balanced Pittas are warm and friendly, with a joyful disposition, disciplined, and are articulate speakers. Pittas are also highly intelligent, courageous, goal oriented, and organized. They are confident, have clear vision, and are natural leaders with sharp memories who perform well under pressure. Imbalanced Pittas tend to be irritable, jealous, angry, intense, loud, aggressive, overbearing, and controlling.  In the body, excess Pitta manifests as heartburn, fever, inflammation, rashes, ulcers, and hemorrhoids.

Balancing Pitta: The key words when it comes to a Pitta type are cooling, calming, and moderation.  Some suggestions for balancing a Pitta type include the following:

  • Engage in calming activities like spending time in nature, walking barefoot through cool grass, or walking the beach on a cool night under the full moon

  • Meditate daily

  • Do calming physical exercise like yoga, swimming, tai chi or walking

  • Take cool showers

  • Use sweet and cooling essential oils like rose, sandalwood and peppermint

  • Massage daily with cooling oils such as coconut or olive oil

  • Get in touch with emotions

  • Eat in a peaceful environment

  • Surround yourself with cooling colors, like blue, green and white

  • Listen to calming music

  • Take time to rest every day

  • Observe the seasons and adjust diet and lifestyle accordingly

  • Wear cooling gems and stones, such as blue sapphire, pearl, and moonstone

When in balance, Pitta types are joyful and enthusiastic, fun to be around. Learning how to stop, tune in, listen and then to do what our inner nature is saying is a great part of finding that balance.  Slowing down and breathing is a wonderful first step in moving toward that balance.

Jenna Sullivan is a yoga instructor living in the San Diego area with certifications in Ayurveda and Panchakarma.  In addition, Jenna is currently finishing a Master’s degree in Holistic Nutrition.  Jenna offers affordable Ayurvedic and nutritional consultations, as well as yoga classes in various locations, such as on the beach in Coronado on Thursday mornings and gentle yoga at Pilgrimage of the Heart yoga studio on Monday mornings. For more information, please see her website or call 619-770-9752.

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