Ayurveda, India‘s system of traditional medicine and ‘science of life’, deals elaborately with measures of healthful living. It stresses a balance of three elemental energies: VÄyu vÄta (air & space), pitta (fire & water) and kapha (water & earth). These three Doshas are important because when they exist in equal amounts, the body will be healthy and when they are out of balance, the body will be unhealthy in various ways. One ayurvedic theory states that each person possesses a unique combination of Doshas that define their temperament and characteristics. Discover your primary and secondary doshas and learn how you can enhance your overall health by bringing all three energies into balance.
The Energy of Lubrication
Elements: Water & Earth.
Qualities: Heavy, cool, moist, soft & stable.
Body Characteristics: Stocky with a potential to become overweight. Good muscular development. Short neck & large bone structure.
Personality: Slow speaking, slow moving, consistent & dedicated.
Physical Challenges: Prone to mucous conditions of the lungs and sinuses. Has the potential for water retention & diabetes.
Emotional Challenges: Lethargy, depression & over attachment.
Balanced by: Warm, light, dry & mobile qualities.
Balancing Tastes: Imbalancing Tastes: Pungent, Bitter, Astringent Sweet, Sour, Salt.
Organs and main sites: Stomach, Chest, Sinuses, Lungs, Joints, Head.
Gifts: Unconditional love, nurturing and devotion. Kaphas make wonderful caretakers & supporters.
Time of Day: 6-10 AM or PM.
Season: Winter – Early Spring.
Life Cycle: 0-16 years old.
The key to balancing Kapha is stimulation. By nature, Kapha dosha is steady and slow; this leads to dependability and strength. But out-of-balance Kaphas cling to the status quo too tightly; they need the stimulation of new sights and sounds, new people and events. The same is true physically. Without activity, Kaphas can become lethargic and dull. This is directly linked to their slow digestion. When food is not digested completely (or is it is too heavy, oily or indigestible to begin with), toxic residues called ama can clog up the system and eventually lead to disease. Kapha types are particularly prone to this problem and need to make sure they keep their inner fire going through regular exercise and a varied diet.
Kapha people move in and out of balance slowly, so it is good to be steady about keeping this dosha in balance. Aggravate Vata today and you will likely feel the effects tomorrow. But you can eat Kapha-aggravating foods all winter and not realize your mistake until spring comes and the accumulated dosha “melts down,” giving you a typical spring cold or sinus congestion.
If you show signs of Kapha imbalance, the following points will help make your daily routine more congenial to Kapha dosha.
• Seek variety in life. Kaphas need to make a conscious effort to seek new experiences. They cherish hearth and home, which averts the danger of running themselves ragged. But there is a definite tendency to stagnate, leading to depression, the bane of many unbalanced Kaphas. As with the other doshas, meditation is very useful here; it allows Kaphas to discover the underlying alertness in their nature.
What makes life truly stimulating is not external variety but the spark of alertness inside us. Nature designed us to take a lively interest in fresh ideas, new faces, and productive innovation. (Man is the only creature, it is said, who will cross an ocean just to see what other men there look like.) With a little exposure to meditation, Kaphas who were content to watch the parade go by decide that what they really want is to join it. Kaphas are tempted to be possessive about life, to store and save everything that comes their way, whether it is money, energy, status or love. When they discover that they can let go and use their solid strength as the fuel for change, they take a huge step forward in their personal evolution. A Kapha’s considerable capacity for loving and being loved then becomes twice as strong.
• Eat a Kapha-pacifying diet. It is important not to overeat if you are a Kapha type, because the tendency to become overweight is definitely present. Hot ginger tea taken at meals helps sharpen dulled taste buds; it also makes slow digestion more efficient, as does a teaspoon of whole fennel seeds chewed after the meal. If there is a lot of congestion, Ayurveda recommends favoring dry foods and astringent (puckering) tastes. Dry toast, apples, crackers, turmeric and many raw vegetables are good for avoiding excess Kapha buildup and toning the digestive tract.
• Reduce sweetness. Kapha is the only dosha strongly identified with a taste – sweetness. Irrespective of calories, Kaphas will gain weight and go out of balance if there is too much sweet food in the diet. Avoiding ice cream, milk, sugary desserts, wheat bread, and butter (all considered sweet in Ayurveda) will often make a dramatic difference with the runny nose, blocked sinuses, allergies, and lethargy that Kaphas suffer from when out of balance. Over the long term, too much sweetness may help promote diabetes, a serious Kapha disease. Fortunately, there is one natural sweetener – raw honey – that is actually good for Kapha. Especially beneficial is old honey that has started to crystallize. Taking a tablespoon or two (but no more) every day helps release excess Kapha from the system.
• Stay warm and avoid dampness. Being a cold dosha, Kapha benefits from heat. Dry heat is best if you are congested, a frequent Kapha complaint. Direct sun on the chest or using a heating pad under you back often helps with excess Kapha. Kapha is also sensitive to dampness. Be careful not to expose your nose, throat, and lungs to cold and moist air if you are feeling sick.
• Perform dry massage on your body to stimulate circulation. This procedure is called garshana and is done with special raw-silk gloves. You do not want to use oil when there is aggravated Kapha, since Kapha is an oily dosha. A brisk full-body rubdown, taking five to ten minutes, is good enough; do not work so hard that you tire yourself out. If you do not have raw-silk gloves, a dry loofah or loofah mitt can substitute.
• Drink warm fluids during the day, but take them in moderation, since Kapha is already moist.
• Exercise regularly, preferably every day. This is one of the best ways to avoid stagnation and the buildup of toxins in the body. Because they are generally strong and well muscled, Kaphas tend to be natural athletes when they are young. The arrival of adult responsibilities makes most Kaphas sedentary. That is a pity, for Kaphas benefit from exercise more than anyone else and should keep active at all ages.
• Be honest with yourself when you are sick and you need to recuperate. Kaphas have excellent stamina and enjoy physical activity; they also have a high threshold for pain and do not take to their beds unless they are very sick. If you are such a person, remember to take it easy when you feel sick enough to be in bed. You are probably twice as ill as most people. Kaphas can get quite gloomy unless they feel well cared for; so let your friends and family pay extra attention to you when you are low.
• Awaken one hour before the sun. As kapha is heavy and sluggish less sleep is recommended to counter these qualities. If choose to sleep less than eight hours, it is fine to go to bed later but it is always best to awaken a full hour before sunrise.
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Dr. Vasant Lad. Ayurvedic Studies Course Albuquerque, NM. 1990-1991