Yoga for Pitta
3 Nov 2021 HYN Himalayan Yoga Academy
The next phase of practice involves a focus to promote vitality, greater energy, and sufficient heat to balance the water/fire quality of Pitta. In contrast to Vata balancing, there is little attention paid to the breath except to allow it to move freely. For Pitta, the pacing will tend to be faster because the emphasis here is on a more vigorous practice to generate body heat and accasional perspiration. The pacing of the asana practice needs to be done in such a manner as to retain the Vata balance, yet warm enough to feel Pitta`s heat being retained within the body. This method redirects frustration, anger, and misguided sexuality, which become transformed into creativity and abundant enthusiasm. The Pitta practices will create vitality and luster. It will also increase Tejas, which in its highest form manifests as spiritual discrimination and allows the yogi to see through the ephemeral into the transcendental nature of life.
For Pitta predominant constitutions- Pitta/Vata and Pita/Kapha- attention directed toward the sensations of heat and vitality are crucial. One heat is generated and brought home to the belly, the student can learn to discern the five specific subdoshas of Pitta and seek guidance from them. In this manner, Pitta evolves into Tejas.
The yoga practices for balancing Pitta energy promote a good appetite with strong digestive fire, heighten enjoyment of life, and maintain the stability of our vitality. Therapeutically,these practices are used for inflammatory conditions such as ulcer, arthritis, colitis, acne and sciatica. The psychological applications include becoming free from anger, criticism, judgment, dissatisfaction with life and jealousy.
Pittas need practices that are stimulating enough to capture their natural need for excitement. Yet the practice should not stimulate competitiveness or over heat them. The need is for warmth and enthusiasm not a burning heat. Kundalini Yoga is not Recommended for this dosha, except under close supervision and while living with other practitioners. Taking plenty of water before and after Yoga is highly recommended.
Exercises in general
The pitta quality is enhanced by cooperation and sharing activities. Pitta quality will especially enjoy partner yoga practices done in a light hearted jovial manner. Pitta predominant people need this more than others. Working out together and going to Yoga class is more important for them than for Vata predominant people who may tend to be loners.
Pitta needs yogic practices that maintain their digestive fire and warm personality, yet temper their tendency toward inflammatory conditions. Yoga poses that apply pressure to the navel region and the solar plexus are beneficial because they provide a massage to the area of the liver and spleen. Spinal twists should be practiced with abdominal focused breathing. Pittas can train themselves to observe the heating tendency of these poses and allow the heat to spread over the skin during winter, thus promoting Bhrajaka Pitta. During thesummer, the result should restore the Agni to its home in the middle abdomen, balancing Pachaka Pitta.
Backbending poses, including Cobra ( bhujangasana), Bow ( Dhanurasana), and Locust ( Salabhasana), stimulate Pitta when it is deficient or sluggish. These should be practiced in moderation or by going in and out of the poses with mild exertion. Holding of these poses is only recommended for Kapha as they can break up the stagnancy and attachment associated with this doshas excesses.
Full headstand should be avoided for more than one minute, as it increases Sadhaka and Alochaka Pitta, which may result in burning eyes or headache. It should be avoided entirely for those persons experiencing Kundalini experiences as signs of spiritual or psychic awakening. Brief handstands are also encouraged.
Milder poses such as Inverted action ( Viparita Karani Mudra), shoulderstand ( Salamba Sarvangasana) and Plow ( Halasana) are beneficial in restoring serenity to Pittas when their lifestyle has been too demanding. The classic Hatha Yoga texts Siva Samhita and Gheranda Samhita ( see Appendix) speak metaphorically about the balancing of the solar and lunar principles in the human body. In these poses, the moon (cooling) principle in the soft palate region is restored from its tendency to gain heat by dropping its secretions into the navel ( sun or heating) center. The net result of good practice is that these poses cool the mind and body. One must adapt the practice daily in terms of effort, duration and focus of breath to restore the fire element to its capacity to produce lightness in the mind.
When the body/mind becomes too hot, Pitta should practice a cooling type of pranayama called Sitali Pranayama. You will find it described in the pranayama section; this is an ideal form for Pitta and can be practiced during the hot period of the year.
In general, Pittas need to practice steadiness with regard to pacing of all Pranayamas, as speeding up will tend to be aggravating. While a moderate practice of Bhastrika may be of benefit during winter, they should avoid an excessive practice that displaced the digestive fire.
Purification ( Shatkarmas)
Agnisar Dhouti is an idela practice for Pitta as it helps to maintain the digestive fire of metabolism ( Agni). It can be safely continued for a long period of time, if discernment is maintained to avoid excessive heat or enthusiasm. Nauli is also beneficial for Pittas especially when effort is made to learn the variations of left, right, central and rolling from side to side. For moderate to slender body types this is not difficult to master, though one needs experienced guidance to show the steps to mastering Nauli.
Tratak practice is especially beneficial for Alochaka Pitta. It should be practiced regularly to the point of making the eyes tear. Once this has been achieved, it can be continued until the tears become cool. In those with eyestrain or who wear glasses, Alochaka Pitta may be excessive; this practice will return it to normal levels.
Mantra and Meditation
Pitta will benefit from practicing soothing mantras like Om or the Bija mantras like lam ( focusing upon the first chakra) and ran ( focusing upon the third chakra). These mantras have a calming affect and help Pittas to experience fire in its spiritual essence as Divine Light.
Many Pittas predominant students meditate more deeply with open eye practice than closed. In this manner the practice of fixed gazing (Tratak) can be evolved into its deeper form as Sambhavi Mudra. This enhances a feeling of serenity, allowing meditation to move towards an experience of selfless service in honor of the Divine Presence in others. It is important for Pittas to maintain humility and selfless service is a key to that quality`s evolution. These practices may utilize the aid of a Yantra (spiritual geometric design), by holding their visual awareness still and contemplating the archetypical quality the yantra represents, thus meditative absorption is deepened, which can focus attention to the subtler body of energy and light. This is particularly recommended for those students of Tantra Yoga.
The deal spiritual practice for Pitta is selfless service (karma yoga). Regular readings from the Bhagavad Gita, Paramahansa Yogananda`s Autobiography of a Yogi, or the Book of Job in the Bible can provide inspiration. These writings will enhance Pittas understanding of detachment and sense of self.
Another path well suited for Pitta is Tantra Yoga. The deepest asects of tantra are transformative, honoring the world as the creation of the Divine Mother. Tantric teachings that focus upon the more superficial goals of heightened sensuality, heightened sexuality, opening the chakras and psychic abilities will not satisfy Pitta`s longing for Spirit. “Recent Western nonacademic interest in the Tantra has tended to blur the important distinction between the tantra-sastra and the Kamasastra. India had a highly developed science of erotica, the kama sastra, where the goal was a cultured, refined lovemaking, a perfectly acceptable fulfillment of one of the four legitimate aims of human existence, that of kama (sensual pleasure). The tantra sastra, in using the secret ritual, did not seek to fulfill kama, but rather to provide a new path for the attainment of moksha (spiritual liberation)… It grossly distorts the Tantra to represent it as teaching that sexuality and spirituality are themselves identical.”
The Yoga sutras( III, 38) caution about the development of supernatural powers that can result from realizing the potential of the mind. In the third chapter on siddhis, it states: “These gifts ( that come from siddhis) are impediments to being absorbed in Spirit, but they are seen as the attainment of perfect to the worldly minded.”
Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy for Pitta
In Yoga`s reportive we have practices for balancing the Pitta qualities thus promoting natural biological functions of digestive assimilation. On the therapeutic level the practices that restore Pitta balance will diminish Pitta aggravated symptoms such as inflammation, poor circulation, headaches, and strong cramps at the onset of menstrual rhythms, The practices of pranayama and meditation can be adapted to address psychological issues og anger, criticism, self confidence, desire and manifestation of wealth, improve memory, and to develop a persistent will power.
Summary of Yoga For Pitta
The focus for treating Pitta is upon maintaining good energy levels through discrimination about what is beneficial and activities which bring out their innate love of life and enthusiastic vitality. Yoga practices are done with occasional attention to breathing, with the main focus upon locating the specific places feeling a stretch, yoga poses vigorously performed, and movements which put pressure in the abdominal cavity. Some specific yoga practices for balancing Pitta include the Sun salute, Sunbird and Cobra Vinyasas, twists and challenging standing poses such as Triangle and the Warrior