In Part I of this Kapha series I gave a basic lesson on doshas, their qualities and locations in the body, why it’s important to be mindful of vata no matter what and the impact seasons have on our body/mind/spirit experience.
In this Part II & III I will go into more specific detail about kapha, its attributes, how they manifest and the food and lifestyle do’s and dont’s that will ensure a healthier and happier kapha season. So, let’s get to it.
PART II – Kapha Qualities and Attributes Of Kapha In Greater Detail.
Kapha is made of earth and water elements. There is no better pairing than that which life develops and grows (earth) and that which nourishes it (water) and they give kapha its structure, stability and immunity. But all of that can work against kapha, especially if you experienced a cold icy winter (read more about this in Part I). Those elements elevate the propensity for accumulated kapha (wet, cold and stagnant) and ama (unprocessed toxic waste and dampness).
If You Are Carrying Excess Kapha You Will Know It.
Attributes of Kapha & How They Manifest In The Body:
Kapha is heavy, slow, cold, oily, wet, smooth, dense, soft, static, hard and dense.
Heavy – strong bones, large body frame, grounded, tends to gain weight.
Slow – Slow walk and talk, slow digestion, sluggish.
Cold – clammy skin, damp, steady appetite and thirst, congestion, repeated colds.
Oily – Oily skin, hair and feces, Lubricated and unctuous joints.
Liquid – Excess saliva, chest/sinus/throat/head congestion.
Smooth – Smooth skin, healthy mind, calm, happy easy-going nature.
Dense – Thick skin, dense fat, thick nails, feces and hair, firm, plum, round, compact and condensed tissues.
Soft – Kind, loving, content, compassion and forgiveness.
Static – Easy to do nothing, sleep and sit.
Sticky – Attached in relationships, loves to hug and connect with others.
Hard – Firm muscles, body and strength of body.
Gross – Tends to gain weight, retain fluid, swell and obstruct open channels and vessels.
Come spring that heavy, dense frozen fluid will melt into allergies, runny nose, phlegm, mucous, heavy eyes, headaches and swelling (especially around joints and upper body). Your digestion may be sluggish, you have a loss of appetite, you’re lethargic an depressed. There could be a thick white coating on the tongue, excess urination and / or slimy mucous-y or smeary stools. You’re drowsy, oversleeping, possessive, emotionally overeating, greedy and sad.
PART III – Shadrasas (Six Tastes) and A Diet & Lifestyle To Best Support Kapha
In the first post I discuss the shadrasas (six tastes) in Ayurvedic nutrition. They are sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent. The ones that work against kapha are Sweet ~ comprised of water and earth elements, is nourishing and heavy but so is kapha so unnecessary. Sour ~ made of earth and fire with hot, oily and light qualities that can stimulate digestion (which a sluggish kapha could benefit from any other time but now) but makes the mouth moist and increases saliva. Salty ~ made of fire and water and retains water (last thing kapha needs). It is heavy, wet and warm so more moisture, weight and heat that kapha does not need either.
Are you beginning to connect the dots and see how easy it can be to balance your body and doshas once you see foods, substances and seasons in terms of their qualities?
Below are some ideal foods and lifestyle routines/habits for supporting Kapha. The best time to include them is late winter and spring season but always year-round to maintain stability while tending to your other doshas and their needs in any given season.
Herbs, Spices & Teas
Clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, turmeric, neem, licorice, ginger, oregano, thyme, rosemary, caraway cayenne, basil, parsley, dill, black pepper, dill, fenugreek, curry leaves, Indian bay leaf, mustard seed, coriander, coffee, green or black tea, mint, nettle, yerba mate.
Fruits, Vegetables, Legumes and Pantry
Turnips, radishes, bitter melon, mustard greens, chard, dandelion, kale, fenugreek, arugula, millet, papaya, apricot, cranberries, rhubarb, honey, nightshades, dried fruits, apples, sesame oil, mustard seed oil, black beans, chickpeas, split peas, asoefedia (hing), chilis, crackers, bread, popcorn, puffed rice, millet, amaranth, plantain, corn, cabbage, cauliflower, Broccoli, white meat chicken, turkey
Limit The Following:
Beets, sweet potatoes, dates, rice, dairy (dry cheeses like parmesan if you must have cheese), citrus, sweet stone fruits, nuts, ghee, coconut, cucumber, celery, okra, olives, oatmeal, banana, cakes and pastries, tamarind, cherries, milk chocolate, beef, dark meat chicken, eggs, duck.
- Early to bed (10 pm) Early to Rise Before 7am ideally (I’m giving a little cushion here knowing we aren’t all going to willingly wake up before 6. So let’s aim for 630ish.
- More vigorous exercise, running, boxing, sports…
- Moonlit walk after dinner.
- Be as social as you can during COVID. Kapha thrives with its friendships. and togetherness.
- Eat smaller meals – having a fast day benefits kapha.
- Get out of your head.
- Vigorous massage with sesame or mustard oil.
- Spices, spices, spices!
- Nap mid-day
- Sleep in
- Eat big meals or eat emotionally
- Hot water on head in shower
- Eat fried, processed foods
- Eating one big meal instead of smaller meals throughout the day
And though I’ve made the point in the first post and touched on the elements here in this one, I must mention it again because it is so important. Kapha and vata are polar opposites so while kapha benefits from dry, astringent, pungent and bitter rasas / foods, these work against vata. And while kapha needs less fat and less sweet rasas, vata is grounded by them. This is why in Ayurveda we never completely eliminate one taste and include all six so no dosha is neglected or burdened. And like I mentioned in my first post having “a little bit of this and a little bit of that” attitude when we are starting out will help anyone be able to include this advice immediately. But during the late winter / spring switch it to “a little bit of this (sweet, sour and salty) and more of that (pungent, bitter and astringent)”
I hope this helps and if you haven’t signed up for my Ayurvedic Spring Cleanse class with Dr. Bhavna Singh on Sunday, March 14th, make sure to RSVP HERE. xo