Understanding Your Pitta Constitution
According to Ayurveda, your constitution is established at conception, cemented at birth, and remains constant over the course of your lifetime. It influences your physiology, your physique, your likes and dislikes, your tendencies and habits, your mental and emotional character, as well as your vulnerabilities toward imbalance and disease. It is defined by the particular combination of vata, pitta, and kapha that you were born with, and it represents your body’s natural state of equilibrium. Because your constitution serves as your blueprint for optimal health, understanding it—with the help of curiosity and self-awareness—can be truly enlightening. Our intention here is to introduce you to your constitution and to give you some of the tools necessary to begin to develop a deeper understanding.
It’s important to know that we all have all three doshas in our constitutions: vata, pitta, and kapha. But the ratio between them—the specific quantitative and qualitative relationship between the three—is entirely unique to you. That said, as a pitta type, your constitution is distinctly pitta-predominant, and you probably have a lot in common with other pitta types who share that core distinction.
What Ayurveda Knows About You
While there is undoubtedly no one quite like you out there, it is remarkable how accurate Ayurveda can be in predicting who we are—based simply on the broad strokes of our constitutions. As you read through this introduction, and start to piece together the ways in which pitta has shaped your constitution, you will probably begin to see your particular strengths and vulnerabilities more clearly. And as your understanding of your constitution expands, your capacity to use these insights to your advantage will also improve. Below are a number of traits that you can likely attribute to your constitution.
Please keep in mind that distinguishing physical characteristics should always be considered within the context of your ethnicity. For example, traits like eye color, skin color, or hair type are assessed in comparison to others with a similar heritage.
You probably have a well-proportioned skeletal frame that is medium in size, much like your overall bone structure and build. Your musculature is naturally lean but athletic, and your weight probably tends to remain fairly steady. Your face is generally heart-shaped, and you may have sharp facial features like a pointed nose and a tapered chin. Your eyes are probably medium in size, light in color, and can be sensitive to bright light, while your gaze is piercing. Your skin and scalp are relatively fair, slightly oily, reddish in color, and may be especially sensitive or reactive. Your hair is soft and fine, might be prone to early graying or balding, and may either include reddish hues or be conspicuously red. Your body temperature tends to be consistently warm or hot, your extremities are usually warm to the touch, and you sweat easily, so you do not likely tolerate especially hot weather, intense sun, or difficult physical labor. In fact, you probably prefer to remain cool, and may like cooler, drier climates best. Your natural internal heat may also make you somewhat predisposed to inflammatory types of disorders.
Personality: Mental and Emotional Tendencies
You are generally intelligent and discerning—with good concentration and memory, articulate speech, and a mind that is as keen, insightful, and studious as it is focused and driven. In fact, you almost certainly love a good intellectual challenge. You are probably known for being ambitious, hard-working, disciplined, dependable, and wise, but you may sometimes feel like your iron will or your competitive nature win out over other aspects of who you are. In fact, pitta types often ignore the needs of their bodies in favor of satisfying their raw sense of ambition and their desire to be productive. There is little doubt that you tend to love learning and that you have a natural capacity for problem solving, systems, and organizational tasks. You also likely have a refined sense of taste—in food and elsewhere in your life—and while you probably make money easily, you may often spend it on luxuries. You tend to be highly principled, charismatic, and you are equipped with natural leadership qualities. On the other hand, you may have a bit of a temper, and when your perfectionist tendencies take over, you can become highly critical of both yourself and others.
You very likely have a strong and consistent appetite, and you are almost certainly blessed with naturally strong digestion, which can sometimes propel a lack of awareness around tendencies to overeat or overindulge. Nevertheless, when you are healthy, you probably enjoy a wide range of foods without issue. However, chances are you do not view eating as a particularly productive activity, so you may often multi-task while eating, rush through your meals, and chew less thoroughly than is ideal. Slowing down and offering your full attention to each meal would probably be highly beneficial for you. Your bowels likely move rather frequently (sometimes two or three times per day), and your stools are naturally soft and oily, which means that when you are healthy, you never have to worry about being constipated.
Energy Levels, Stamina, and Sleep
You have a lot of energy to offer the things that you are passionate about, and while your stamina is moderate by nature, your will is quite strong, which gives you the capacity to push yourself when you so desire. In fact, you are highly capable of convincing both yourself and others that you have far more reserves of strength and stamina than you do in reality. This is one of pitta’s primary challenges.
You require a moderate amount of sleep—six to eight hours, on average—and if possible, you prefer to sleep in absolute darkness. You generally sleep well, even if your sleep is sometimes interrupted, and in all likelihood, you prefer a relatively firm bed with fewer covers. You can definitely be a night owl, and sometimes, you are most productive late at night. However, when you stay up late, you may find it much more difficult to turn your mind off and surrender to sleep. Most pitta types do well to retire by about 10 p.m.
The Qualitative Nature of Pitta
Does this sound like you? It’s astonishing how helpful the doshas can be in making sense of both our strengths and our weaknesses. In this next section, we hope to ground your understanding even further by exploring the primary qualities of pitta, how they can impact both the physiology and the mind, and how they can either support or challenge your health—depending on whether they are balanced or aggravated.
As you read through this section, you may begin to notice some of the ways in which each quality manifests in your system, giving you a glimpse into some of the more subtle aspects of your particular constitution. In time, it is precisely this type of deepening self-awareness that can inform your understanding of how best to promote optimal health and balance in your life.
Pitta Is Light
Lightness often manifests as a trim, fit physique, easeful digestion, light-heartedness, a bright and alert mind, a magnetic or charismatic personality, lightly-colored eyes, and fair skin. In excess, it can cause a flighty ungroundedness, light-headedness, excess upward moving energy (think headaches or baldness), low blood sugar, or sensitivity to sunlight.
Pitta Is Sharp
A sharp mind is characteristically inquisitive, penetrating, quick, and highly capable of mastery. Sharpness is also behind decisiveness, discernment, a strong appetite, penetrating digestive capacity (that easily breaks down ingested food), and sharp vision—whether literal, figurative, or both. In excess, it can lead to a short temper, sharp words, the capacity to judge one’s self and others harshly, and sharp hunger.
Pitta Is Hot
The hot quality creates a healthy blush in the cheeks, a naturally strong digestive fire, the capacity to stay warm in cold conditions, and gives the personality passion. In excess, it can manifest as skin rashes and breakouts, burning sensations, inflammatory disorders, excess acidity, and hot emotions like anger and rage.
Pitta Is Oily
Oiliness makes for naturally soft and lubricated skin, smooth movement in the joints, and it bolsters our capacities to relax, accept nourishment, and give or receive love. In excess, it can lead to oily skin and hair, acne, excess mucus, or an especially manipulative (think slippery) personality.
Pitta Is Liquid
The liquid quality supports proper salivation, healthy digestive juices, an appropriate capacity to sweat, and fluidity of movement throughout the digestive tract, blood, joints, and body. In excess, liquidity can dilute the digestive fire, cause bleeding gums, bleeding disorders in general, a tendency to bruise easily, and excessive sweat.
The spreading quality can manifest as charisma and charm, the capacity for spreading influence, and may lead to exceptional achievement, broad recognition, and even fame. In excess, it is often behind a spreading rash and the capacity to create a toxic emotional environment.