“Vata, pitta and kapha move in the whole body producing good or ill effects upon the entire system according to their normal or provoked states. Their normal state is balanced (prakriti) and their abnormal state is imbalanced (vikriti).”
In this article we conclude the series on Ayurveda by exploring the Kapha Dosha.
Kapha is a combination of the earth and water elements and is the principle of growth and protection. It is the substance that provides our nourishment and makes up the bulk of the body’s structure, the bones, muscles, tissues and cells as well as the body fluids. It is responsible for supporting and holding the structures of the body together and also provides our emotional support in life. It gives rise to emotional calm and endurance and allows us to feel love, compassion, devotion, patience and forgiveness. It gives us a sense of well being. Its main site in the body is the stomach. It is also found in the chest, throat, head, pancreas, lymph, fat, nose and tongue. It relates to phlegm/mucus in the body and helps smelling and tasting.
Kapha types are grounded, emotionally and physically strong and resilient, placid, kind and thoughtful. They don’t like change or the unpredictable aspects of life and may have a tendency to be lazy, ‘couch potatoes’. Exerting themselves does often, not come naturally, although vigorous exercise can make them feel very good and healthy.
Physically Kapha types have the biggest and strongest builds of all three types. They tend to have large bones, broad shoulders and big muscles and have a tendency to put on weight easily. Their hair is thick and lustrous, their eyes calm, large and moist, their lips are full and their teeth strong and even. They sleep heavily and love to lie in the morning. Their skin is usually cool to the touch, they don’t tend to mind extremes of weather but their symptoms like colds and mucus congestion are often worse in cold, damp, winter weather.
If you have excess Kapha you may feel slow, heavy, lethargic and you will have a tendency to retain water and put on weight. Emotionally you may feel complacent, greedy, materialistic and possessive. There may be a tendency to be stubborn, obstinate and narrow minded. Excess Kapha can lead to stagnation in the tissues, cellulite, mucus congestion, breathing problems, sleepiness, low thyroid function, poor digestion and sluggish bowels.
The most important spiritual challenge for Kapha people is to overcome the tendency for inertia and complacency. Learning how to use their groundedness and their tendency for material life to support and sustain an active spiritual life is the culmination of this spiritual challenge.
- Large frame, heavy bones
- Big muscles
- Prone to overweight
- Thick oily skin and hair
- Large clear eyes
- Tendency to over sleep
- Slow, tend to be lazy and inactive
- Resistant to change
- Calm, forgiving and compassionate
- Slow to learn and slow to forget
- Symptoms worse in cold, damp weather
- Slow and methodical rhythms
HOW TO NOURISH AND BALANCE YOUR PERSONAL RHYTHMS
The Ayurvedic principle of ‘like increases like’ helps us nourish our individual rhythms and achieve balance in our lives.
According to this principle, we are nourished by the qualities that are not innate to our individual dosha. We should avoid the intake of things that are like our own qualities and increase the intake of things that are unlike our qualities.
Kapha dosha is a combination of earth and water elements and is therefore nourished by ether, air and fire.
Kapha’s slow and methodical rhythms are balanced by qualities of stimulation and letting go.
Kapha is aggravated by sweet, sour and salty tastes (as they increase moisture), at the beginning of a meal, morning (6 – 10am) and evening (6 – 10pm), by greed and possessiveness, in winter, by a cold, heavy and wet natured diet, in childhood, from a damp and cold climate, sleeping in the day, lack of movement and laziness. Because like attracts like there is a natural tendency to be attracted to these!
As Kapha is slow, damp and heavy it is aggravated by these tendencies. It is best balanced by their opposites – increase movement, activity, light diet, warm environment, less oils/fats, more dry foods and environments:
- Engage in stimulating physical exercise and yoga practice every day
- Embrace new and invigorating experiences
- Rise with the sun
- Eat wholesome, light, warm, pungent and stimulating foods
- Avoid cold, oily, rich and excessively sour or salty foods
- Drink hot water and spicy teas – chai, cinnamon, cardamom
- Protect yourself against cold, damp and wet environments
- More giving, sharing and letting go
- Stimulating and deep massage with drying oils – mustard seed
An imbalance of the doshas is a sign of lack of health, vitality and enjoyment. Specifically, it manifests as a flow from one dosha to the next. Imbalance in Vata creates misunderstanding and misinterprets the situation, then moves to Pitta that criticizes and judges, then moves to Kapha to attach your own point of view and increase the strength of the ego.
When all three qualities are most balanced, the result is optimal health on many levels:
Vata – relaxation of the body
Pitta – fire in the belly
Kapha – warm loving heart
“Life is light which is also love. We must ever seek greater life, light and love,
because this is the nature of the Universe itself.”
In the previous article we looked at Pitta Dosha. I trust you have enjoyed this series on Ayurveda and feel that you have learnt something about yourself and life. Stay present and keep on observing and learning from nature!