In Ayurveda, Kapha is one of the three doshas (mind-body types). The qualities of Kapha are: slow, heavy, steady, cool, solid, soft, and oily. Kapha is associated with the Earth and Water elements.
Kapha governs the structure and stability of the body. Its primary function is to protect the body and mind by overseeing the formation, growth, and lubrication of the joints, muscles, bones, fat, marrow, nutritive fluids, and reproductive tissues.
If Kapha is your primary dosha (are you kapha? find out here), groundedness and contentment are basic to your nature; you will tend to be calm, steady, and slow to anger. As long as Kapha is kept in balance, you will be stable, compassionate, and loyal.
Check out balancing Kapha Recipes here
Physical Characteristics: Those who are Kapha in nature have thick, broad, and well-developed frames with large, long limbs. They have excellent stamina to support their strong build. The skin is usually smooth, oily, pale, and cool. They have plentiful thick, wavy, lustrous hair that is generally brown. Speech is generally low, slow, and rhythmic (monotonous) with a pleasant deep and resonant voice. Kapha-types have solid necks, large rounded and full faces, large round noses, large mouths with big full lips. Their teeth are also large and set into strong gums. Their eyes are big and often blue or light brown in color. Those who are Kapha in nature sleep soundly and have regular digestion.
Mental/ Emotional Characteristics: Kaphas are known for being caring, centered, compassionate, content, faithful, grounded, patient, stabile, supportive, and tender. They have a sense of being well nourished in terms of body and mind. Those that are Kapha predominate have calm, steady, considerate, stable, and patient personalities. They are comfortable with structure and routine. They are slow to anger but once angry they do not calm down easily. They are honorable and avoid lies. Loyal, forgiving and understanding, they can be lethargic even lazy if not driven by others or the external environment. Learning may be slow but memory will be strong. They are excellent in logical analysis. They take time before reaching conclusions. They enjoy long hours of deep sleep and have a difficult time sacrificing sleep for nearly any reason. They have a naturally strong sex drive. While they do save money, most spending will go towards food.
Kapha in Balance:
They have resilient, strong bodies and minds that will protect them from illness and instability. With a calm, grounded disposition they create and maintain loyal friendships and relationships, enjoy financial abundance, and feel generally content in life.
Kapha out of Balance:
When excess kapha builds up they are prone to weight gain, fluid retention, and allergies. When out of balance Kapha types may easily become overweight, suffer from asthma, and are at risk for diabetes and depression. And, given that the kapha mind is usually too content to seek fresh, mental stimulation it is prone to dullness and lethargic thinking. Those with an excess of Kapha tend to hold onto things, jobs, and relationships well after they are no longer serving them. When Kapha is out of balance they have a tendency to resist change and respond to stress with apathy.
If your Kapha is out of balance you may feel sluggish and heavy. As the damp, earthy quality of Kapha builds up in your body and mind there is an increase of dullness, stagnation, and even depression. There is also an increase of mucous in the body as well as a tendency to gain weight easily.
In Ayurveda, a basic principle is “like increases like”. When the qualities of Kapha (slow, heavy, steady, cool, solid, soft, and oily) are increased, Kapha naturally builds up in the body, mind, and spirit.
Consider that by eating a bowl of cold, sweet ice cream in the wet springtime you will aggravate (increase) Kapha in your system. The following day you may wake up with a cold, an increased feeling of heaviness, and you’re likely to have gained some weight. This is because Kapha (innately cold, heavy, oily, and wet) is increased by cool, wet weather and heavy, sweet foods.
When you understand your constitution and tendencies you can make better-informed lifestyle choices and identify foods and environments that best suit you.
Kapha-Balancing Lifestyle Guidelines:
- Kapha is cold and damp by nature. Balance Kapha by increasing dry heat, especially if congested. Use a heating pad on your back and/or a sunlamp on your neck and chest. Avoid exposing your head, neck, and chest to cold elements especially if you have felt “under the weather”.
- Kapha is inherently heavy and dense. They have a tendency to hold on tightly to routines and comforts. To counteract this inclination, Kapha requires more stimulation (change of scenery, increased mental and physical challenges)
- Kapha benefits from changes to routine and a periodic re-evaluation of priorities to make sure that dullness and apathy are not clouding the mind and body.
- De-clutter: Kapha types benefit from weeding out and removing things (and relationships) that are no longer serving them. This can be done on a seasonal or bi-annual basis to fit with the comfortable feeling of “routine” that Kaphas so crave.
- Kapha is slow. Follow a daily routine of waking up before 6 am every day and avoid mid-day napping.
- Kaphas are easily congested, especially in Winter and Spring. Prevent congestion by using an Ayurvedic neti pot for regular nasal cleansing.
- Exercise regularly (if not daily) to rid your body of excess mucous and toxins that build up with stagnation. Prefer exercises that build endurance and are aerobic in nature (running, distance swimming and biking, aerobics, and competitive sports). It is best to exercise in the morning to increase awakeness and simulation for the new day.
- Favor colors that are warming and bright such as yellow, orange, and red.
- Choose aromas such as clove, cinnamon, camphor, myrrh, and eucalyptus that are invigorating warming.
- Prefer environments that are warm and dry.
- Select music that is more “up-beat” and lively to help stimulate Kapha.
- Enjoy a vigorous 10-15 minute self-massage with sesame oil to increase circulation and decrease stagnation of lymph and blood flow.
- One of the key aspects to keeping Kapha in balance is activity. While the motivation to get started can often be challenging for this type, finding this motivation is paramount. (maybe work with a personal trainer or find a gym buddy to jump start your commitment, or sign up for a local charity walk or road race).
Kapha-Balancing Nutrition Guideline:
- Once a week try a liquid fast of only fresh fruit juices, vegetable juices, and freshly pureed vegetable soup.
- Reduce or avoid dairy which naturally increases Kapha.
- Reduce or avoid most sweeteners. The exception is honey which is light and heating (both balancing for Kapha). Other sweeteners such as sugar and maple syrup are best avoided as they contribute to Kapha problems such as asthma, colds, and lethargy. (Note- do not heat honey in tea or elsewhere as it become toxic when heated).
- Sip on hot ginger tea with meals to stimulate digestion. You may also chew on a small piece of ginger 20 minutes before eating.
- With the exception of salt, all spices are pacifying to Kapha. Pungent spices are especially balancing – use cayenne pepper, mustard seeds, and ginger liberally in your cooking.
- Reduce consumption of nuts and seeds. Use pumpkin and sunflower seeds in moderation.
- All beans are beneficial to Kapha types. Consume soybeans and soybean products (tofu and tempeh) in moderation.
- Prefer fruits such as apricots, apples, pomegranates, and pears that are lighter and reduce heavier fruits such as bananas, peaches, dates, coconuts, and melons that are full of sugars.
- While most vegetables are recommended for Kapha, reduce intake of sweet, heavier veggies such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes.
- If you are eating meat prefer organic white meat chicken, egg whites, and turkey. Seafood in moderation and reduce/avoid consuming red meat.
- In general, a Kapha diet needs to be full of life and energy to help stimulate the digestive and metabolic systems.
- Enjoy the largest meal of the day at noontime when the digestive fire is highest and stick to a lighter breakfast and dinner. (Allow for 2-3 hours of digestion time before going to bed).
- When using fats and oils limit the amount and prefer safflower and corn oils which are lighter.
- Prefer barley, corn, buckwheat, rye, and millet over oats, wheat, rice which are heavier and Kapha-aggravating.
See Recipes for Kapha Dosha here
Are you a Kapha type?
Identifying your mind-body type (basic nature) is an important step to understand your innate strengths and challenges. With this knowledge you are empowered to make choices and adopt routines that will keep you healthy and balanced.
Take the Dosha Quiz to get started today!
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