Ayurvedic Wisdom: Bringing Balance to Imbalanced Kapha

According to Ayurveda, there are five elements, and everything – literally – is made of them. The five elements are space (ether), air, fire, water and earth. Of these, the heaviest and most dense are water and earth. And it is water and earth that kapha is “made of.” So what does this mean about someone who is primarily kapha? They tend to have the most structure, the most musculature, the biggest features of the three doshas. Big bones, big eyes, stocky build, thick hair and a round, broad face is typical of kapha. 

The primary qualities associated with kapha dosha are moist, heavy, dense, cool, soft, stable – just like water and earth. When kapha goes out of balance, these qualities increase. What does this mean in terms of health? PHYSICALLY, kapha imbalances can include mucous conditions of the lungs and sinuses, water retention, diabetes, high cholesterol, excess weight. MENTALLY, one can be slow, inflexible, unwilling to change. And EMOTIONALLY, the “heavy, sticky” emotions can be a challenge – melancholy, lethargy, over-attachment.

Ayurveda is based on the laws of nature, and in order to bring balance, one applies the opposing qualities. So what to do when you’re too heavy? Lighten up! Choose light foods, lose weight. Too stable, such as not getting enough exercise? Get up off the couch and get moving! Too moist? Bring in dryness (drier foods, less oil). This is how Ayurveda works, and in many ways, it’s really quite simple. 

Here’s some more suggestions for balancing Kapha Dosha:

* Kapha really benefits from stimulation to offset the dense, stable, heavy qualities. Those with a kapha nature tend to cling to the status quo and routine, and this just leads to stagnation and more imbalances for kapha. Instead, seek the stimulation of new sights, sounds and experiences (quite the opposite of vata’s need for stable routines!). 

* Wake up before 6 am each morning, and avoid taking naps during the day. Excess sleeping increases heaviness.

* Stay warm and avoid dampness. Dry heat is helpful if you’re congested.

* Perform daily dry massage with a skin brush, silk gloves or powder.

* Use your neti pot daily to keep your nasal passage clear.

* Clear clutter from your home, office, and car! Clutter is another form of congestion.

* Get regular exercise – preferably every day. A vigorous yoga practice, running, bicycling, swimming, dancing, and aerobics are all good choices.

* Spice your foods  – in fact, never eat bland food! Avoid cold, heavy, fatty foods. Drink spicy teas such as cinnamon, clove, ginger, sage, black pepper, chai. Eat your biggest meal at midday, when the sun is highest in the sky, to support healthy digestion.

* Choose bright and warm colors, such as yellow, orange and red. 

* If you’re drawn to aromatherapy, spicy and light aromas are good choices, such as camphor, patchouli, sage, basil, eucalyptus, cinnamon, peppermint, and grapefruit.

Most importantly, kaphas by nature tend to be loving, kind and sweet. So embrace these gifts and share them with the world as you strive to achieve healthy, perfect balance, utilizing the beautiful gifts that you were given!

By Marisa Laursen, C.A.S., P.K.S., A.Y.T., Faculty at the California College of Ayurveda