Kapha is made up of the two elements water and earth and thus k apha is both structure and lubrication. Kapha cements the elements in the body, providing the material for physical structure. Kapha is the principle of protection, nourishment, and stability. Water is the main constituent of Kapha, and this bodily water is responsible physiologically for biological strength and natural tissue resistance in the body.
People with a predominance of Kapha in their nature tend to have a heavier frame, think, and move more leisurely, and are stable. When balanced, it creates calmness, sweetness, and loyalty. When excessive, Kapha can cause weight gain, congestion, and resistance to healthy change.
Qualities of Kapha: Heavy, slow, steady, solid, cold, soft, oily.
Kapha dosha governs the structural integrity of the body, from giving it mass and stability to protecting it from the outside environment. This Dosha maintains immune resistance. This Dosha maintains immune resistance. It is the principle that holds the cells together and forms the muscle, fat, bone, and sinew.
Kapha lubricates the joints; provides moisture to the skin; helps to heal wounds; fills the spaces in the body; gives biological strength, vigor and stability; supports memory retention; gives energy to the heart and lungs, and maintains immunity. Kapha is present in the chest, throat, head, sinuses, nose, mouth, stomach, joints, cytoplasm, plasma, and in the liquid secretions of the body such as mucus. The chest is the seat of Kapha .
Kapha is located in the:
- gastric area, lubricating ingested food to make it easier to digest is its principal function.
- tongue and throat and governs taste. It lubricates food and makes it easier to swallow.
- heart , chest and lower back , lubricating the heart and lung tissue to slow down wear and tear.
- head , sinuses and spinal fluid and provides lubrication to nerve and brain tissue.
- joints and provides lubrication to keep the joints smooth and flexible.
The Characteristics of Kapha
Mind: Detail oriented, steady, consistent
Body: Sturdy, gains weight easily, has trouble losing it
Hair: Thick, oily
Appetite: Loves to eat but has a slow digestion
Routine: Methodical and sturdy, resistant to change
Temperament: Thoughtful, forgiving, sweet, patient, loving, content, slow moving
Conversation: Simple and profound
Shopping Style: Saves
Stress Response: I don’t want to deal with it! Withdrawn
Physical Characteristics of Kapha
People with more Kapha in their constitutions tend to be of larger proportions, with a robust frame and padded joints excellent stamina. They have large&soft eyes, radiant skin and thick smooth skin that may tend towards oiliness, and rich, wavy hair. Those who are predominantly Kapha sleep soundly and have regular digestion. But when Kapha builds to excess, weight gain, fluid retention, and allergies manifest in the body. When they’re out of balance, Kapha types may become overweight, sleep excessively, and suffer from asthma, diabetes, and depression.
Emotional Characteristics of Kapha
They are stable and calm in thought, speech and action, and are easy-going, loyal, patient, loving and supportive in relationships. They have an inherent ability to enjoy life and are comfortable with routine. There is an element of steadiness to their step, a quality of serenity in their smile. Loyalty is usually their second name. They are long, heavy sleepers and uncomfortable in damp, clammy environments. Calm and sweetness of disposition are hallmarks of balanced Kapha.
People with an excess of Kapha tend to hold on to things, jobs, and relationships long after they are no longer nourishing or necessary. Excess Kapha in the mind manifests as resistance to change and stubbornness. In the face of stress, the typical Kapha response is “I don’t want to deal with it.”
Psychologically, Kapha tends to be tolerant, calm, forgiving and loving: however, they also exhibit traits of greed, attachment, envy and possessiveness. Their comprehension is slow but definite: once they understand something, that knowledge is retained. Kapha tends to be wealthy. They earn money and are good at holding on to it.
Signs that You Need to Balance Kapha
Factors that can cause Kapha dosha to increase include a diet that contains too many deep-fried, sweet or heavy foods, over-consumption of ice-cold foods or beverages, exposure to cold and damp, daytime sleep, and lack of exercise.
- Are you gaining weight easily, even though you feel like you don’t really have an appetite?
- Do you feel tired even though you are not performing any physical activity?
- Do you find it difficult to awake even after long hours of sleep? Do you wake up feeling unrefreshed, tired?
- Is your skin feeling oilier than usual, with breakouts?
- Is your hair oily and streaky even with regular shampooing?
- Are you heavy and congested in your throat, head and chest?
- Is your digestion slow? Do you feel heavy and lethargic after a meal?
- Do you feel like you just want to sit and be a spectator?
- Do you feel withdrawn? Is it difficult to deal with change? Do you constantly feel the need to “cling”?
- Do you feel mentally unmotivated?
If you answered yes to many of the questions above, following a Kapha-balancing diet and lifestyle can help restore balance to Kapha.
Dietary Recommendations for Kapha
A Kapha diet should be lively and full of energy to help spark the digestive and metabolic systems. Eat your largest meal at lunchtime and a smaller meal at dinnertime. Allow at least 3 hours to digest before bedtime. Include a few dry foods in your daily diet to balance the oily nature of Kapha, foods that are nourishing but light to counter the heaviness of Kapha and warm foods with a zing to them to balance the sweet, cold quality of Kapha.
- If you need to balance Kapha, reduce the use of fats and oil. You small amounts of ghee.
- Choose coconut oil when you cook sauté vegetables, spices or other foods, as it retains its nutritional benefits even when heated. Steaming foods and then adding a mixture of spices sautéed in very little ghee is best. In general, avoid too many oily foods.
- Try a liquid fast one day per week, ingesting only fresh vegetables and fruit juices, and pureed vegetable soup.
- The three ayurvedic tastes that help balance Kapha are pungent, bitter and astringent , so include more of these tastes in your daily diet. Apples, garbanzo beans cooked with spices or steamed broccoli or cauliflower with light olive oil and spice mixture make healthy Kapha-pacifying snacks. Eat less of the salty, sweet and sour tastes.
- Clear vegetable soups with beans and diced vegetables, stews made with Kapha-balancing vegetables, bean casseroles, soups and light grain/vegetable combinations are ideal for balancing Kapha, especially when combined with Kapha balancing spices.
- In general, all vegetables are recommended but reduce consumption of sweet and juicy vegetables such as sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and zucchini. Carrots, asparagus, okra, bitter leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts, daikon radish and bitter gourd are good vegetable choices. Avoid nightshades.
- Choose lighter whole grains, and eat grains in moderation. Barley, buckwheat, millet and couscous are good choices. Reduce intake of oats, rice, and wheat.
- All beans are good for Kapha types except for soybeans and soybean-based foods such as tofu, which should be eaten in moderation.
- For non-vegetarians, fresh, organic white meat chicken, turkey, eggs, and seafood are acceptable. Limit consumption of red meat.
- Reduce intake of all nuts and seeds. Favor pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.
- Dry cereal, salt-free crackers and rice cakes balance the liquid nature of Kapha dosha and make good snacks. However, eat snacks in moderation and avoid sugary snacks.
- Raw Honey is a sweetener that is said to best pacify Kapha. Other sweeteners should be avoided because they increase the Kapha dosha, contributing to problems such as blocked sinuses, allergies, colds, and lethargy. Take a tablespoon of raw honey every day helps release excess Kapha; please do not cook with honey.
- Favor lighter fruits such as apples, pears, pomegranates, cranberries, and apricots. Reduce heavier fruits like bananas, avocados, pineapples, oranges, peaches, coconuts, melons, dates, and figs.
- Stay away from too much salt but instead, infuse dishes with fresh herbs and spices for flavor. Use pungent spices like pepper, cayenne, mustard seed, and ginger freely and zesty warming spices are wonderful for balancing Kapha. Ayurvedic spices such as turmeric, cumin, coriander, cayenne, black pepper, dried ginger, asafetida (hing), cloves and fenugreek offer flavor, aroma and healing wisdom.
- Drinking hot ginger tea with meals helps stimulate slow digestion and sharpen dull taste buds. Drink 2 to 3 cups of ginger tea daily
Suggested Food Choices for Kapha
The following list of suggested foods is by no means all-inclusive, but offers starting guidelines if you are new to ayurvedic dietary principles.
Foods listed as “Best” can be eaten without reservation on a daily basis. Foods listed as “Small Amounts” can be eaten in small portions fairly often or in larger portions once or twice per week. Foods listed as “Avoid” should be eaten only on rare occasions. Remember, it is not what you do once in a while that matters. Choose pungent, bitter and astringent foods; avoid sweet, sour and salty foods.
Toasted breads are very good, as they are drier.
Best: Amaranth, barley, basmati rice, buckwheat, corn flour, quinoa;
Small Amounts: Millet, rye;
Avoid: Oats, long and short grain rice (white or brown), wheat, whole wheat.
It is best to use raw or organic milk. Milk should be taken warm with a small amount of ginger and cardamom.
Best: Goat milk, skim milk;
Avoid: Butter, buttermilk, cheese, cream, cottage cheese, ice cream, kefir, sour cream, yogurt.
Best: Raw honey only;
Avoid: Fructose, maple syrup, molasses, raw sugar, white and brown sugar.
Use all oils in small amounts only. Even the best oils, if overused, will aggravate kapha.
Best: Flaxseed, mustard, safflower, soy, sunflower;
Avoid: Almond, avocado, castor, coconut, olive, peanut, sesame.
Best: Dried fruits as they are not too sweet. Apples, cherries, cranberries, grapefruit, pomegranate, prunes, raisins;
Small Amounts: Apricots, lemon, lime, papaya, pineapple;
Avoid: Sweet fruits, avocado, bananas, berries (raspberry, blackberry, blueberry, strawberry), cantaloupe, coconut, dates, figs, grapes, mango, melons, pineapple, oranges, peaches, pears, persimmons, plums, tangerines, watermelon.
Vegetables are best eaten raw during the summer and cooked the rest of the year and during times of digestive difficulty. In general, vegetables are good and even the “Avoid” group, if eaten in small amounts, will cause no harm.
Best: Alfalfa sprouts, artichoke, asparagus, green beans, bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, carrots, celery, chilies, cilantro, corn, lettuce, and other leafy greens, mustard greens, onions, parsley, peas, hot peppers, potatoes, radish, seaweed, spinach, rutababgas/turnips;
Small Amounts: Mushrooms, tomatoes;
Avoid: Beets, cucumber, eggplant, okra, sweet potatoes, water chestnuts, zucchini, all squash.
Nuts and Seeds
Best: Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds;
Small Amounts: Sesame seeds;
Avoid: Almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, coconut, filberts, lotus seeds, macadamianuts, pecans, pistachio, peanuts, walnuts.
If you choose to eat meat, limit consumption to 2-3 times per week. Meat soups can be particularly nourishing during convalescence. Kapha individuals can thrive as vegetarians.
Best: Chicken or turkey (dark meat only), fresh water fish, rabbit;
Avoid: Beef, duck, eggs, lamb, pork, seafood, shellfish, venison.
Best: Mung beans, red lentils, soybeans (tofu and soymilk), split peas;
Small Amounts: Aduki beans, black gram, black beans, fava beans, kidney beans, lima beans, pinto beans;
Avoid: Black lentils, chickpeas.
When spicing, the overall spiciness is more important than individual spices. Even some “Avoid” spices can be used if balanced with other spices on the “Best” list. For kapha , food should be spiced hot and never bland.
Best: Anise, basil, bay leaf, black pepper, calamus, chamomile, caraway, cardamom, catnip, cayenne, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, dill, fennel, fenugreek, garlic, ginger, horseradish, hyssop, marjoram, mustard, nutmeg, oregano, peppermint, poppy seeds, rosemary, saffron, sage, spearmint, star anise, thyme, turmeric. Hot spices are best. Any spice not listed is probably fine;
Small Amounts: Catsup, vinegar;
Avoid: Mayonnaise, salt.
Best: Two glasses of spring water per day in cool weather and three in hot weather unless doing extremely vigorous exercise and sweating. Herb teas (spicy and bitter), cranberry juice, green vegetable juices, wheat grass juice;
Small Amounts: Carbonated mineral water, coffee, tea
Avoid: Apple juice, carrot juice, orange juice, soft drinks
Lifestyle Recommendations for Kapha
- The primary lifestyle recommendation for balancing Kapha is to get moving. Get some exercise every single day. Focus on building endurance. Favor running, bicycling, swimming, aerobics, and competitive sports. Dance to energizing rhythmic music.
- Add zest to your life by consciously incorporating variety and new experiences into your life. Traveling and meeting new people and trying new hobbies are ways to embrace change. Challenge yourself with new activities: learn a new skill, solve some puzzles or take a class. Welcome new relationships in your life by making it a point to meet people: volunteering comes naturally to the caring Kapha nature and can provide a forum for building nurturing new bonds.
- If Kapha dosha is out of balance, you’ll tend to feel tired even after a solid ten hours of uninterrupted sleep. Follow a regular daily routine, by going to bed early and waking up really early in the morning, definitely before sunrise, to improve the quality of your rest. Avoid taking naps during the day.
- Do not skip meals, and do not fast. The Kapha digestion tends to be low, as does appetite, and not eating on time slows down the metabolism even more. Start your day with a light breakfast. Eat a sustaining meal at lunch, and a lighter meal for dinner.
- Stay warm and avoid dampness. Kaphas are particularly sensitive to cold, damp conditions and benefit from heat. Use dry heat if you are congested (a common Kapha complaint). Using a heating pad under your back or a sunlamp at your chest is often helpful. Avoid exposing your nose, throat, and lungs to cold winter air if you aren’t feeling well.
- To prevent congestion, the ayurvedic neti pot is a powerful tool for nasal cleansing
- Deep-cleanse oily skin twice a day with a natural cleanser to rid the skin of surface impurities and grime. Once a week, exfoliate your skin with a cleansing scrub. Shampoo your hair every other day at least with a gentle natural shampoo. Perform a daily garshan (dry massage) on your body to stimulate circulation each morning before your shower or bath to help dislodge embedded toxins and increase natural energy levels.
- Use warm, stimulating aromas including cloves, camphor, cinnamon, eucalyptus, juniper, and marjoram.
- Clear your space. To avoid clutter from accumulating in your home, office, car, and other physical spaces, regularly clean out and give away things that you know you’ll never use.
- Drink lots of warm water, infused with warming spices such as turmeric, dried ginger and black pepper. At-home steam therapy can help open clogged channels.
- Vigorous activities are ideal exercise for Kapha-dominant people. Exercise everyday for best results, but without overstraining. Racquetball, singles tennis, jogging and aerobics are good activity choices for balancing Kapha. Exercise in the morning if you can to get a good charge for the day ahead.
- Favor colors that are warm and bright, including yellow, orange, and red.
- Set aside about 30 minutes each day for meditation, to help balance the heart, mind and emotions and to enhance body-mind-spirit coordination.