Ayurveda recognizes three doshas, or humors that make up our bodily constitutions in different combinations: vata, pitta, and kapha. We each have a unique makeup of these doshas in different quantities.
Kapha dosha is a combination of the elements of earth and water (Vata is associated with space and air, Pitta with fire and water) and rules the springtime. The main seat of kapha in the body is in the chest and lungs, and the qualities of kapha are heavy, slow, dense, dull, soft, oily, and cold. Kapha, most often being an endomorph body type, is the most likely of the three Doshas to face problems around weight management. Kapha Dosha is the calmest and most loyal of the doshas with loving and steady qualities.
Now that spring is upon us, we may begin to see excess kapha dosha showing up in the form of mucus in the lungs, lethargy and sleepiness, weight gain, slow digestion, and low energy. Practicing yoga during the kapha times of day (6:00–10:00 am and 6:00–10:00 pm) and practicing at a more vigorous pace, in a warm space, can help alleviate excess kapha.
Qualities opposite to Kapha are predominantly warm, dry, light and active. It is therefore best for Kapha individuals to seek out physical and emotional environments, routines, and foods that possess these opposite qualities.
MEDITATION FOR KAPHA
Nothing suits Kapha more then to sit in one spot for periods of time and not move. This Dosha type tends to be extremely loving, loyal and particularly devotional nature and will find bliss in joining in a spiritual practice. Finding ways to focus the mind won’t be necessary for you if you are a Kapha person; you are already calm and grounded.
A wonderful meditation technique for Kapha is a walking mindfulness meditation. Put on whatever you need to stay warm and comfortable and go for a short walk, preferably in nature, in an area you know well where you feel safe and don’t get distracted by traffic or other concerns. Let your senses―smell, sight, touch, sound and even taste―be engaged and notice your environment without getting too attached to these sensory impressions.
You may also use your walking meditation to align your breath with your step. For Kapha, mantra meditation is very useful as it keeps your mind engaged enough to not drift off into a sleepy state. Kapha should sit in an upright position with an erect spine while meditating to avoid slouching and nodding off.
YOGA FOR KAPHA
Similar to other forms of exercise, the Kapha person can get away with more vigorous forms of yoga. Even though Kapha is a type that tends to be of a sturdier build, this type also benefits from great flexibility. A Vinyasa flow is a fine practice for Kapha, as are Hot Yoga and Ashtanga Yoga. The Kapha body doesn’t sweat easily, so a warm room and flowing practice will help work up a healthy sheen and flush toxins out through the skin. Poses that are particularly beneficial for Kapha are standing postures and those that stimulate the adrenal system; in particular, asanas such asNatarajasana (Lord of the Dance Pose) or Ustrasana (Camel Pose). Kapalabhati Pranayama, the skull shining breath, or the Kundalini Breath Of Fire are also beneficial for stimulating blood circulation and the respiratory system, which is especially important for Kapha who tends to accumulate mucous easily.
Each of the Doshas have their own unique strengths and challenges, and with a little awareness you can do a great deal to stay healthy and balanced. You can use this series to adjust your lifestyle and routines in a way that supports your constitution.
I suggest you take one of the many Dosha Quizzes available online that will help you figure out which type you are. If you are dealing with a particular concern, you may also seek the advice of an Ayurvedic practitioner.
Small changes can have a big impact on your quality of life. Don’t be afraid, find out who you are and take small steps. You might enjoy it.
Here are nine yoga poses to help balance your kapha.
- Sun Salutation. Sun Salutations invite heat and mobility to counteract the cold and stable qualities of kapha. They’re a great way to get the circulation and lymph moving first thing in the morning.
- Tapping the Thymus: Standing with your feet hip width apart, use the finger tips to rapidly tap the center of your upper chest. Vigorously tap the area for one to three minutes. Fully filling the lungs as you tap the chest. Stimulates the thymus gland which builds immunity and massages the lungs, heart, bronchial tubes, and throat through the vibration of the tapping.
- Twisting Chair pose. This pose builds heat in the legs while simultaneously pushing out the stagnation that can build up in the chest and lungs from excess kapha. Moving from side to side with the breath, as well as longer holds, can be beneficial.
- Half Moon pose. Stimulating the side waist is a good way to ward off mandagni, or slow digestion, because it moves and awakens the digestive organs and stretches the entire abdomen. The side-to-side motion also offers spaciousness to the lungs, where excess mucus can build up from excess kapha.
- Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I): Lifting and opening the chest. Gaze upward and if it is comfortable for your neck, tilt the head slightly back to open the throat. When you are ready to release the pose, hold it for one more breath. Builds strength and courage.
- Warrior II. This is the perfect pose for a long, heat-building hold to burn kapha. Keeping arms wide open brings space into the front body where the kapha dosha lives.
- Triangle pose. The lateral flexion in Triangle, much like in Half Moon, aids in sluggish digestion and opens the lungs and chest space to get things moving. This pose is also great to challenge and strengthen the legs, back, and core.
- Tree pose. Standing on one leg means that all the other limbs are off the earth, balancing the earth element of kapha. Turning the gaze up while in Tree can invite even more spaciousness and lightness into the posture, to counteract the dense heaviness of kapha.
- Side Plank (Vasisthasana): Reaching the side of the body towards the sky. Find a great deal of space in your body. Strengthens the abdomen, arms and legs, and improves balance.
- Cow Face (Gomukhasana): Keep the chest lifted and open. Aids for the respiratory system by opening the chest and lungs. Stretches the shoulders, hips, knees, and buttocks.
- Floor Bow pose. This supine backbend massages all the digestive organs and stimulates agni, our internal digestive fire.
- Upward Plank pose. Upward plank is a great heat-building challenge for the arms, back and legs, and also opens the chest.
- Headstand. When you reverse the blood flow in the body, accumulated fluid in the ankles and legs (which can be caused by too much kapha) gets the chance to move and drain. Headstand also shifts the tendency of kapha to get stuck in the same old routines, by offering a whole new perspective on the world.
<3 + Light,