Move built-up fire energy from the belly through the rest of the body to balance the Pitta dosha and combat its tendencies for competition and overheating.
Pitta is a mix of fire and water. Pitta doshas (take our dosha quiz to determine yours) need to be especially mindful of letting go of their competitive tendencies and comparing themselves with other yogis—on and off the mat. Instead, trying to relax and stay present with your own practice and regular meditation is especially important for this dosha.
Pitta’s primary element, fire, is based in the stomach. The poses in this sequence help to move accumulated Pitta and its fire quality to evenly spread through out the body for the natural glow and natural radiance that comes from balance.
The element of fire in this dosha means Pittas have more of a tendency toward heat and overheating. It’s not ideal for Pittas to practice power yoga classes in a heated room. Pitta types need to adjust even more in the hot summer months, taking even greater care to avoid overheating in their practices. Cooling, relaxing poses are best, ideally in the beginning of the day—or at least not in the hottest part of the day. Focus on poses that help to release excess heat from the body, including those that open the heart and the hips, such as Pigeon, Cobra, Bow and Bridge poses. The best standing poses for Pitta are those that open the hips, including Tree Pose, Warrior II, and Half Moon.
Avoid holding long inversions (which draw a lot of heat into the head), overheating with very fast flow sequences, and aggressively pushing to get into Handstand every practice. A longer Savasana period is wonderful for Pittas, focusing on calming the breath, which helps you feel cooled down and more centered.
Come to a comfortable seat. Take 20 breathes with eyes closed, watching the breath and allowing it to naturally slow down.
Start by kneeling on your hands and knees, hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Exhale deeply through your mouth and contract your abdominal muscles up toward your spine, rounding your spine to the ceiling as you tuck your tailbone under and bring your chin toward your chest in Cat Pose. Inhale and relax your belly, letting it drift toward the ground, as you lift your head, come into a slight backbend, and slide your shoulder blades down your back for Cow Pose. Continue to flow your spine through several rounds of these arching and backbending motions, feeling the movement of each vertebra.
Spread your knees as wide as your mat, keeping the tops of your feet on the floor with the big toes touching. Bring your belly to rest between your thighs and your forehead to the floor. Stretch your arms in front of you with the palms toward the floor. Stay at least 5 breaths, reconnecting with the steady inhales and exhales of your breath.
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Step both legs back into Downward Dog, making an inverted “V” shape with your hips lifted and legs straight. Spread your fingers and ground down from the forearms into the fingertips. Rotate your upper arms outward to broaden the collarbones. Let your head hang and move your shoulder blades away from your ears toward your hips. Engage your quadriceps and rotate your thighs inward, sinking your heels toward the floor.
Extended Triangle Pose
Step forward with your left foot into and turn your right foot out at a 45-degree angle toward the top corner of your mat. Point your left toes forward so that your hips open to face the side of the mat. Inhale and move your arms out in a T-shape, with your palms down and shoulders relaxed. Exhale and push your hips toward your back foot. Lengthen your spine while keeping both legs straight. Keep your front quad muscle engaged and rotated outward. Move your left hand toward your shin, a block, your ankle, or the floor as your right arm lifts toward the ceiling. Lengthen your spine and torso as you take at least 5 breaths. Come back to Downward-Facing Dog then step the right foot forward to repeat this pose on the opposite side.
Transition to your belly. Place your palms under your shoulders with your fingertips pointed straight forward and your elbows tucked straight back behind you, close to your ribcage. Lengthen your legs, with the tops of your feet pressing down into the mat and your toes pointing straight back behind you. As you inhale, press your hands or fingertips down into the mat to gently lengthen your arms as you stretch up into a backbend. Do not strain. Only bend as much as feels natural. Lift your chest up and radiate your heart wide open, rolling your shoulder blades down. Breathe in this backbend for at least five breaths. To come out, bend your elbows to gently lower back down to your mat.
Lie on your stomach with your arms by your sides and palms facing up. Roll your shoulders up and back. Bend both knees, extending your heels and bringing your feet toward your buttocks. Grasp your outer ankles with your hands if possible, or, if not, energetically press your ankles and feet toward one another. Keep breathing deeply as you press your knees toward each other into the midline and your heels back, gradually increasing the opening of your chest and heart. Rock gently if that feels natural. Take at least 5 breaths and repeat up to 3 rounds.
Head-to-Knee Forward Bend
Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you. Inhale, bend your left knee, and draw your heel back toward your groin, pressing against your inner right thigh. Keep your right leg straight with your right foot flexed. Stretch both arms up overhead, then exhale and twist your torso slightly to the right, aligning your navel with your right big toe. Start to stretch your arms forward, lengthening your spine forward as much as possible and bringing your hands down to the mat on either side of your leg for support. Eventually you may be able to clasp either side of your right foot. To exit, gently bring your torso back up. Straighten your left leg and repeat on the other side.
See also Quiz: What’s Your Dosha?
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
Lying back on the floor, bend your knees and place your feet on the ground. Position your heels hip-width apart, directly under your knees. Be sure your feet are facing straight forward. Press your palms into the floor and slowly lift your hips and lower back to the floor to a comfortable level, ideally to the height of your knees, as you root your feet down strongly into the ground. Stay in this pose for five breaths or more. To come down, gently lower your hips down to the mat. Repeat 1–3 rounds.
See also Discover Your Dosha
Lie on your back and gently lift your legs backward into Halasana (Plow Pose), with your legs overhead. Bend your elbows and bring your hands onto your back with your palms facing upward for support. Tuck your shoulderblades underneath you. Next, lift your legs up on the floor and toward the ceiling. Point your toes and engage your legs and core. Once you lift your legs, keep your gaze up and neck straight. Lift up through the balls of the feet. Bring the hips toward the front of the room and the feet toward the back to straighten the body, engaging your core and avoiding a bowed-out position. Breathe evenly and deeply. Try to stay there for at least 30 seconds and build up to a few minutes. To exit the pose, carefully bring your feet back over your head, returning to Halasana.
FINISH YOUR SEQUENCE Spend 15 minutes or more in Corpse Pose (Savasana).
Kimberly Snyder, C.N., is a nutritionist, yoga instructor and the multi-time New York Times bestselling author of the Beauty Detox book series and the new book Radical Beauty, which she co-authored with Deepak Chopra. Radical Beauty redefines beauty to be an empowering and attainable concept to tap into your highest potential of your natural unique beauty and health, inside and out, that includes 6 Pillars for a holistic lifestyle (Internal Nourishment, External Nourishment, Sleep, Primal Beauty/Connecting with Nature, Movement/Yoga and Spiritual Beauty). Snyder has appeared as a nutrition and beauty expert on Good Morning America, Dr. Oz, Ellen, Today and has been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and many others. The go-to nutritionist for many Hollywood stars, Snyder founded Glow Bio, an organic cleanse and smoothie company, and is a Kriya and Vinyasa yoga practitioner, 200-hour Yoga Alliance-certified instructor and avid meditator. In 2015, her first yoga DVD, The Beauty Detox Power Yoga DVD, was released. Snyder is an Ayurvedic doctoral student under the esteemed Dr. Parla Jayagopal at AUCM. Snyder promotes balance, one thing she juggles herself with her writing, her businesses, her practice, and her beloved 6-month old son.