July Newsletter: Energetic Intersections, Part III: Pitta Dosha & the Solar Plexus
Greetings and namaste friends,
Happy Summer Solstice to you all! If you didn't know, Friday June 21st marked the official first day of summer--while the weather might have already felt like summer here in middle Tennessee, the official summer season is just beginning. The summer solstice is also the International Day of Yoga, which was first observed in 2015. According to Wikipedia, "The idea of International Day of Yoga was first proposed by the current Prime Minister of India" in September 2014 while addressing the United Nations General Assembly. In October 2014 the UN unanimously declared June 21 as the International Day of Yoga:
Yoga is an invaluable gift of India's ancient tradition. It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; harmony between [hu]man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature. — Narendra Modi
In the spirit of a "holistic approach to health and well-being," this month we'll continue our exploration into the energetic intersections moving into the relationships of Pitta dosha, the solar plexus chakra and the pancreas. Considering that the summer solstice also marks the "official" start of pitta season in nature, this month's topic should prove itself of even greater relevance for understanding the subtle and non-so-subtle energetic, emotional and digestive shifts you may already observe in your own mind-body.
Pitta's influence on nature isn't just seasonal; it also influences the daily rhythm and the life cycle. Regardless of if you have pitta in your prakriti constitution, if you are in the productive, "prime" adult years of your life, you're in your own personal "pitta season," and if you are of pitta constitution, this can make you more sensitive to its imbalance. With respects to the 24-hour day cycle, "pitta time" is 10am-2pm and 10pm-2am.
During daylight pitta hours digestion is strongest and you should strive to eat your biggest meal between these hours--yes, lunch should be the biggest, most nourishing meal of the day when your digestive fire is on high! By evening pitta hours you should strive to already be in bed and asleep or else you might find yourself up at night "burning the midnight oil" getting too wrapped up and worked up in a project to even feel tired anymore (full disclaimer as I'm writing this at 11:00pm and realize that I planned on going to sleep a long time ago around 9:30-9:45pm, but thought I'd get started on writing this for just 20 or 30 minutes *face slap* g'nite for now!)
A transformative energy, pitta dosha is the power of your digestion and metabolism, the heat of your body; the sharpness of your vision and intelligence; the pungency of your blood and body odors; and the supple radiance of your skin, hair and nails. As a combination of fire and water elements, pitta has hot, light, sharp, penetrating, moist and oily qualities. Physically, pitta dosha is mainly seated in the "solar plexus" midsection of the body; the abdomen, the left and right sides of the torso, the mid spine region of the lower thoracic and upper lumbar vertebrae (T11-L2). The major organs associated with this dosha are the small intestines, the liver, the heart and the spleen.
When pitta dosha is aggravated, it becomes a fire starting to burn out of control. Physically speaking, this out-of-control fire results in "flare ups" of rashes, acne, infections, "-itis" inflammatory disorders, vision disorders, bleeding disorders, and diarrhea. Mentally and emotionally speaking, this out-of-control fire results in reactive, aggressive, domineering behavior such as arrogance, jealousy, hostility, resentment, anger, rage, hatred, or even violence. According to Dr David Frawley & Suhas Kshirsagar:
Those with Pitta physical natures will tend towards fiery emotions like irritability, anger and hatred. Their minds will be sharp, penetrating and aggressive. They will be logical, critical, perceptive and intelligent. They are quick to get emotional, though they usually do not consider themselves to be emotional and have no trouble expressing anger. They have difficulty, however, in controlling anger.
Pittas are determined, articulate and usually get their point across, domintating others with the force of their ideas. They often become self-righteous, sometimes fanatical. They usually possess strong wills, are dignified and make good leaders. They are ambitions, have great goals in life and work hard to achieve them.
Also located in the solar plexus right at the navel is the "City of Jewels," Manipura chakra. An inner expression of the fire element, this third chakra is connected to the eyes and the feet through the sense of sight. The solar plexus chakra is a repository of one's experiences related to power, whether it be positive or negative. According to Dr. Vasant Lad, "the third [chakra] contains experiences that raise issues of control and ambition, which is power," says Dr. Lad. "When the mind is operating through the third chakra, its concerns are ambition, power, control, competition, and achievement."
When Manipura chakra is balanced and open, the "jewels" of clarity, wisdom, self-confidence and well-being can radiant from your core. "...through the light of wisdom, prejudice and aversion change to respect and understanding; and envy and insatiable greed change to goodwill and healthy moderation," says Swami Maheshwaranada." With the gaining of self-confidence, pride and jealousy change to modesty and generosity, ignorance changes into clarity, and laziness into focused, consistent effort."
Manipura chakra's link to the endocrine system is through the pancreas; a long tail-shaped gland in the upper center of the abdomen behind the stomach and near the very first portion of the small intestine where it descends from the stomach--called the "duodenum." The pancreas extends from the center out toward the left side of the abdomen and double functions as an endocrine and exocrine gland.
As an exocrine gland, the pancreas aids in digestion by excreting pancreatic enzymes. These enzymes travels through the pancreatic duct into the duodenum and help breaking down fats, carbohydrates and proteins. As an endocrine gland, the pancreas has the power to control your body's blood sugar levels through secreting hormones directly into your bloodstream; the major hormones the pancreas secretes to maintain blood sugar are insulin, which lowers blood sugar, and glucagon, which raises blood sugar. Just a quick Google search for "symptoms of blood sugar imbalance" reveals sensations like irritability, blurred vision, mood swings, mental fog, headaches, impatience, skin or vaginal infections, diarrhea, and hunger--pitta aggravation.
Control and power is a major motif that's common to Pitta dosha, Manipura chakra and the pancreas; by understanding this, you can easily understand it's control and power that can easily fall out of balance for all three of these. Through exploring the energetic intersection of Pitta dosha, Manipura chakra and the pancreas, you can start to develop an intuitive framework for how to balance all three of these faculties. One easy practice you can start to employ now is maintaining regular mealtimes of breakfast, lunch and dinner with a light snack of fruit or milk between lunch and dinner if needed. Eating regularly--and eating sattvic foods as much as possible--keeps the digestive fire burning bright and in control, thus keeping pitta dosha pacified, cultivating harmony in Manipura chakra and regulating healthy pancreatic functions.
Next month we'll explore Kapha dosha, Anahata chakra and Vishuddhi chakra, so stay tuned! In the meantime, if you have any questions about how to eat an Ayurvedic diet according to your unique doshic constitution, or curious what "sattvic" foods are, please email me. In addition, if you'd like to schedule a private yoga session or Ayurvedic wellness consultation please click here.
This summer I'll be leading a 5-part series learning how to balance the doshas and unblock the chakras using the Ayurvedic principles of yoga therapy. This series runs July 28 to August 25 and meets on Sundays 1-3:30pm at Liberation Yoga on 12th Ave S in Nashville. Click here to learn more and pre-register online!
In addition, I'm now a part of the lead yoga teacher training team at Kali Yuga Yoga in east Nashville! If you're ready to take the next step on your yoga journey, study with me, Erika Porter, Leah Lillios King and Liz Workman Mead for this Fall 2019 semester Yoga YOUniversity YTT! Want to fill out the YTT application? Click here :-) With a diverse teacher team steeped in the practical and philosophical wisdom of yoga combined with experience in Ayurveda, Ashtanga, Barkan, Bikram & Power yoga, you'll graduate this yoga teacher training ready to teach vinyasa, restorative or hot yoga. Email me with any questions.
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