A lot happens in the years from puberty through to 50 or 55 – this is when we are digesting and assimilating our experiences, lessons, talents and desires. We hit the ambitious years when we are most passionate and focused and work hard to achieve the goals and desires we set ourselves.
Just like there are three dominant body types in Ayurveda (kapha, pitta and vata) – these energies also translate to three distinct stages of life. By being aware of these three stages, we can prepare ourselves to be present and celebrate our life, whilst striving to be at our peak health and prevent some of the imbalances that are prone to arise in each period of time.
Last week we looked at the rapid development a baby goes through to reach puberty in the kapha stage of life. You can read the article here if you missed it. Today we are looking at the pitta years which, governed by the elements of fire and water, is a really active and busy time.
What can we expect in the pitta years
The qualities of pitta are light, hot and spreading and pitta years are a time of digestion, assimilation and transformation – it can also be a fiery and competitive time. During these years there’s a real transformation and an increase in personal drive, for those that are a pitta constitution, it can be even more intense. If the fire is blazing too strong, these are the years that burnout happens.
Vata people in the pitta stage of life may have trouble keeping up – it’s not natural for them to be so driven, they are more natural explorers. Whereas a kapha person takes everything slowly, in their own time and can feel knocked out of normal function during the pitta years. It’s all about knowing yourself, and not pushing too hard.
Health issues in the pitta years
During this time, in the transition to adulthood, starting a family and juggling the pressure of work, while looking after children can mean a lot of responsibility and pressure, there’s a lot on the plate now.
The main things we need to be looking out for in these years are problems with indigestion, heartburn, inflammation, hormonal issues and ulcers – all mostly caused by spending too much time working and not allowing enough time to care for ourselves. There also tends to be a lot of headaches, stress and anxiety.
Bringing down the heat
To keep your body and mind in balance it’s important to look at your diet and make sure you eat plenty of cooling foods, which will provide stability to the pitta time. Pitta-pacifying food like zucchini, cucumber, coriander, fennel, watermelon, celery, cabbage, mung beans, kale and apple will all help cool and relax the body. You want to be eating foods which have the opposite effect to heat, and to reduce inflammation – foods with the taste of sweet, bitter and astringent are good. Read more on the six tastes of Ayurveda here.
While coffee can seem like the best pick-me-up in the morning, it’s important to limit stimulants in the long term, it’s not what your body needs now. Here’s an article I wrote which offers other ways to start your day - without coffee. Alcohol and spicy food will also be taxing on the body and are best avoided.
Slow the mind down and relax
With amped up stress and a lot of deadlines to manage, it’s important to nurture a lifestyle which allows time for rest and rejuvenation. Your body gains nourishment from sleeping, this is when your organs are flushing and naturally detox. It’s important to get plenty of good sleep – try be in bed by 10pm and then up early to start the day. Here’s an article I wrote about the importance of getting enough sleep.
Some other effective ways to relax is through yoga. In our busy lives it’s the perfect way of calming and strengthening mind and body. If you find you’re not quite gelling with yoga, you might be doing the wrong poses for your body type, you can read more about that here.
The other big one is meditation Steve Jobs, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner and Ray Dalio, who runs the world’s biggest hedge fund firm, are all known to have practiced meditation – and attributed no small portion of their success to it too.
Meditation is no longer something practiced by Zen masters and the fringes of society – today CEOs, business leaders, Hollywood stars and everyday people are embracing the art of breathing, to hone their problem solving skills, sharpen their minds, ease stress and even stave off disease. Check out this column I wrote about the importance of meditation for Business First Magazine.
There are also lots of breathing exercises which are great for relaxing and pacifying the heat of the pitta years. Five minutes of nadi shodhana, alternate nostril breathing, fills the body with oxygen and can be used to reduce stress and anxiety while sharpening mental clarity and focus. It also clears and releases toxin, rejuvenates the nervous system, helps balance hormones, supports clear and balanced respiratory channels, alleviates hay fever and wheezing and balances the left and right hemispheres of the brain.
Abhyanga, Ayurvedic massage, is also beneficial for relaxing mind and body - as well as slowing down aging, toning muscles, detoxing, bettering vision, reducing wrinkles and improving sleep.
Self care is critical, but often overlooked during these exciting and trying years. The best thing is to focus on cultivating good, healthy habits now that will help you through the next stage of life.
Where you can get some support
If you find that you are eating a balanced diet, that is right for your body type, and incorporating meditation, yoga and other relaxing practices regularly into your life, but still struggle with health issues, we can help by providing a more detailed and personal program. Get in touch with us at the clinic or have a look at doing one of our detoxes, to get yourself back on track. You might like to start with one of our 7-day programs or try out an online, or in-person consult at the clinic.