Sadhaka Pitta & Your Emotional Health
Each of the three Doshas, Vata, Pitta and Kapha, have five Sub-Doshas. Each of these Sub-Doshas has their own energetic and physical responsibilities within the body. They can also be thrown out of balance, just like Vata, Pitta and Kapha. A Sub-Dosha of Pitta, called Sadhaka Pitta, is the focus of this article. Sadhaka Pitta has a very special and important role – the processing of life’s events and the subsequent emotions.
Sadhaka Pitta is the caretaker of the heart. In Ayurveda, the heart is considered the home of consciousness, thus intimately connecting the heart and mind. The Charaka Samhita says this: hridaye chetana sthanam, the seat of consciousness is in the heart. Knowing this, it is easy to see how emotional imbalances stem from a negative mind that is unable to process life’s happenings and let go of the emotions that follow. The emotions and mind can both aggravate each other so it becomes a vicious cycle if not healed with the proper practices and remedies.
Some of your Ayurvedic clients will be able to process their emotions quickly and move on, and some will not. Sometimes even your patients with strong Sadhaka Pitta will come across a certain event like a death that they aren’t able to come to peace with no matter what they do. The consequence of hanging onto negative impressions, samskaras, for a long time, is that samskaras can negatively impact the person in their body, mind and spirit, creating psychosomatic disorders. Even modern science agrees that emotional imbalances (i.e., stress) are a major component in health problems, both mental and physical.
Depressions, rages, anxiety, bipolar disorders, ADHD… all are considered symptoms of weak Sadhaka Pitta, called Manasika Roga in Sanskrit – mental disease. Without strong Sadhaka Pitta, Dhi (ability to learn), Dhriti (retaining information) and Smriti (ability to recall) break down, as do the channels of the body, especially between the heart and mind.
What strengthens Sadhaka Pitta? A strong Agni, of course! In modern medicine Agni is known as a metabolic mechanism. There are different types of Agni – there is the Agni that digests food, drink and substances put on the body, there is an Agni in each cell of our body and an Agni associated with each of the Sub-Doshas as well. So the Agni that works for Sadhaka Pitta is what processes emotions so that they can be released. It is known as Sadhaka Agni.
From the viewpoint of conventional medicine, Sadhaka Agni can be compared to neuro-hormones that are located all over the body. The neuro-hormones in the heart send messages to the brain indicating depression, fear, happiness, anger or joy, however the person perceives what’s happening around them.
Some people innately come into this life with strong Sadhaka Agni while others are born with weak or unpredictable Agni. Even others may have been born strong but over the course of their life have weakened their Agni with improper diet and lifestyle, living with negative people or in a polluted environment. However their weak Agni came about, the solution is the same: come back into balance with a proper Dincharya, Pathya, diet and herbal remedies.
The following recommendations are also great for children, teenagers and young people to practice. Childhood is the Kapha time of life, so children naturally take a longer time to understand and process events, and can hold on to a lot of samskaras at this age. But with their youthful openness and flexibility and an Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle combined with a loving attitude from their parents/guardians, children and young people can have an easier time growing up without all of the angst that is associated with modern day childhoods and the teen years.
Benefits of Strong Sadhaka Agni
- Enjoyment of life, even the little things
- Finish projects on time
- Strong, clear memory
- Ability to persevere even in the face of great adversity
- Peaceful and rejuvenative meditation, Yoga asanas and sleep
- Ability to relax no matter what is happening
- Quickly process negative emotions and let them go
- Positive and understanding outlook on the past, even with trauma
- Easily and quickly make simple decisions that have positive results
- Clearly see a situation/person for both its positive and negative attributes, but be able to focus on the positive and make a decision
Symptoms of Weak/Imbalanced Sadhaka Agni
- Difficulty in making decisions
- Taking a long time to make simple decisions
- Restlessness, inability to sit still or relax
- Insecurity, social anxiety, feelings of inferiority
- Inability to keep commitments or reach goals
- Anger, irritability, rage
- Muddled thinking; clouded mind
- No perseverance in adversity; giving up easily
- Only seeing the negative in each situation/person
- Inability to clearly judge a person/situation, sometimes ignoring warning signs and/or negative, possibly dangerous characteristics
- Hanging onto past traumas by constantly remembering it and feeling the same negative emotion again and again
- Inability to enjoy normal happiness and the little things in life
- Needing extreme highs/events to feel positive emotion
- Constantly chasing after more money and more material things with little to no satisfaction
- Irrational, reckless and/or violent reactions
Simple Practices to Balance Sadhaka Pitta In Everyday Life
Focus on Sattva Vijaya, victory with balance. The more balanced your patients are, the more Sattvic they will be and the easier they will be able to access positive, uplifting thoughts and emotions. The following 10 recommendations can strengthen Agni and restore Sadhaka Pitta to balance.
Meditate and practice Yoga asanas. Yogash chitta vritti nirodhah is an excerpt from The Yoga Sutras that means Yoga is the complete settling of the activity of the mind. From an Ayurvedic standpoint, a daily practice of meditation balances all of the Doshas and promotes a still mind. A still mind means true relaxation is possible, thus strengthening Agni and Sadhaka Pitta and bringing all of the benefits listed earlier, especially the ability to process life as it’s happening. Meditate once in the morning for 15 minutes after waking up and 15 minutes just before going to bed.
Take a walk in nature in the morning and evening. Even just 10-15 minutes is beneficial, though a half hour is even better. Getting outside as the sun is rising and setting (the most relaxing times of day because ambitious Pitta isn’t as active), being in the sunshine and breathing fresh air is balancing for all Doshas. This gentle exercise won’t exacerbate Pitta, but it is enough movement to help release stuck emotions and hormones. Exercise itself helps to release hormones that improve your mood. Relaxed walking also stimulates digestion and cleansing.
Eat fresh, wholesome foods. Avoid processed, canned, packaged, frozen food, old food and refined sugar because they weaken Agni and produce only Ama. Fresh, lightly cooked food offers Ojas to the body, mind and spirit. Focus on a Pitta-balancing diet incorporating fresh cheeses, cucumbers, cilantro and leafy greens.
Avoid vegetables in the nightshade family. This includes white potatoes, eggplants, tomatoes and peppers. Nightshades block Shrotas (channels) in the body and create
Wake up just before sunrise. This balances your circadian rhythms and prevents depression. Waking up after 6am clogs the Shrotas, which leads to a foggy mind, low energy and negative mood.
Be in bed by 10pm. (Earlier is even better!) This is especially true for the first three to six months of healing. Feeling rested and energetic is essential for long-lasting contentment. Falling asleep this early can be difficult, especially when experiencing emotional disturbances, but 10pm – 2am is typically considered the Pitta time of night. Being active past 10pm aggravates Pitta and Vata Dosha and will make it that much more difficult to wake up early for meditation and a morning walk. Being up past 10pm also typically brings on cravings for junk food and junky TV. Falling asleep before 10pm means you are going to bed during the Kapha time, which is ideal for sleep that is truly resting. More information on getting good sleep.
Focus on a lifestyle and diet that promotes regular bowel movements. In Ayurveda, eliminating at least twice a day is a sign of relatively healthy digestion though it is ideal to eliminate once right after waking up and once about 20-30 minutes after each meal. Being constipated is the root problem of numerous symptoms and diseases both large and small, including fatigue, headaches and depression. Triphala Churnam is a gentle but effective Ayurvedic formula for healing digestion and regular bowel movements.
Practice daily Abhyanga to calm all of the Doshas, especially Vata and Pitta. Ayyappala Coconut Skin Oil, Balaguluchyadi Oil, Balahatadi Oil, Brahmi Oil and Cheriya Bhringamalakadi Oil all balance Pitta (and Vata) Dosha.
Never resist the urges for crying, defecation, yawning, hunger, thirst, passing gas, vomiting, sleeping, sneezing or burping. The Charaka Samhita expressly mentions this. It also says not to force these urges to happen. Both actions will imbalance the Doshas and increase emotional problems.
Spend time with people who are positive, respectful, loving, uplifting and spiritual. Choose to be around people who are emotionally supportive and encourage a Sattvic lifestyle in themselves and others. The Charaka Samhita also goes into great detail concerning ideal company: avoid spending lots of time with people who are negative, unhealthy and aggressive in their mind and in their actions and speech. Focus on spending time with people who are compassionate and patient. This is especially true when you are still in the healing process and experiencing the symptoms of weak Sadhaka Pitta. It is good to have people around who understand that it is a matter of weak Agni, not that you are “weird” or “wrong” in some way.
Excessive anger and other emotional/mental imbalances have a natural, holistic solution - the healing process. Remind your clients to practice patience and compassion with themselves as they balance Pitta Dosha, reduce Rajas in their bodies and minds, and strengthen their Sadhaka Agni. It likely took them some time to become imbalanced, so naturally it will take time to come back into balance.
For more information on balancing Pitta Dosha, please read our other blog posts on balancing the fire Dosha.
Happy Healing From All of Us At Kottakkal Ayurveda!
ALL VIEWS AND INFORMATION SHARED HERE IS ONLY FOR THE SHARING OF AYURVEDIC KNOWLEDGE. PLEASE DO NOT TRY OR PRESCRIBE OR TAKE ANY OF THE REMEDIES AND SUGGESTIONS HERE WITHOUT TALKING TO YOUR REGULAR, QUALIFIED DOCTOR. KOTTAKKAL AYURVEDA AND NO OTHER PERSON ASSOCIATED WITH KOTTAKKAL IS RESPONSIBLE FOR UNWANTED SIDE-EFFECTS OR CONTRAINDICATIONS IN YOUR HEALTH. THANK YOU!
Contributing Editor and Kottakkal Practitioner Affiliate: Dr. JV Hebbar
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