What does Kapha Dosha Mean?
In the Ayurvedic system, your constitution is known as your Praktiri and it is determined at conception. It remains constant all your life and is the blueprint for most of your characteristics and personality traits, as well as determining your preferences in food, lifestyle activities and social interactions.
As you may already be aware, in Ayurvedic terms we are all given our Doshas, or constitutional types at conception. This is your blueprint, and will affect your physical body, your emotions, your likes and dislikes and the many other things that make you uniquely you. The blueprint tends to remain fairly constant over your lifetime, so it is important to ascertain which of the three applies to you. Once you know this, you will able to make choices regarding diet and exercise routines that support your constitution and help to keep your systems healthy and balanced.
Character of the Kapha Dosha Type
The elements with which Kapha is associated are water and earth. The common translation of Kapha is “that which connects” meaning that Kapha is responsible for our skeletal support system, and also the muscles, ligaments joints and tendons that hold us together. This quality can manifest in individuals who have a dominant Kapha dosha in being very well grounded and “down to earth” Conversely, if Kapha is imbalanced, a person may be obstinate and pedantic, holding on to strict routines and rituals that interfere with the natural flow of life. Kapha supports our mental and physical endurance and many Kaphas are steady, reliable and loyal. They can have infinite patience, be very supportive of others and keep their heads in a crisis, making them very valuable to have around when things are not going well. When in balance, Kapha types are able to enjoy life and bring an enthusiastic attitude to joint projects. Out of balance, Kapha may produce a character who is unable to see another’s point of view and remains inflexible in their thinking.
Physical Characteristics of the Kapha Dosha Type
The body type of a Kapha is usually large and soft, although they often have great strength and stamina. The skin is smooth and radiant and hair is thick and glossy. Most Kaphas have no difficulty sleeping and usually have excellent digestive systems. They have a tendency to put on weight easily when Kapha is not in balance and may suffer from fluid retention, obesity, lethargy, diabetes and depression,
In Ayurvedic terms the “qualities of Kapha are: Cool, heavy, slow, soft, stable, and unctuous. Kaphas therefore often have cool skin, and a cool temperament. They may have a slow gait and be able to maintain a steady pace for a long time. In excess this quality may lead to an inability to move out of a set routine or pattern. Kaphas are more prone becoming “stuck in a rut” than other Dosha types. The soft quality of Kapha can mean a soft heart, and many Kaphas are natural empaths.
Stability means that most Kaphas are reliable and dependable, although in excess this can lead to an aversion to any form of physical activity.
Typical Kapha Dosha Disorders
Some typical diseases and disorder that Kapha types tend to suffer from are associated with the qualities of Kapha and therefore tend to include weight or eating related conditions and disorders of the cardio vascular system. Some of the most common disorders include:
- Excessive sleep
- Poor circulation
- Joint pain and stiffness
- Mucus coughs
- Rashes and itching of the skin, especially around the ears, nose and mouth
- Pallor and cold sweats
We tend to use the terms “aggravated” and “pacified” to describe the excess and the balance of any Dosha. Kapha can be aggravated through eating too much sweet, sour or salty food, lack of exercise, eating too much and eating before previous meal has been digested. Kapha is also aggravated by cold weather.
Health tips for Kapha Dosha Types
Ayurveda maintains that anything can be used as medicine, including food, music, smells, hobbies and our social interactions. In order to pacify an excessive amount of Kapha you need to look at which quality is out of balance and take action accordingly. The obvious example would be to treat feelings of coldness by keeping yourself warm.
Dietary Tips to Help Balance Kapha Dosha:
Working on the principle given above, because Kapha is heavy, oily and cold, consuming foods that are light, dry and warm will help to bring Kapha back into balance. Reduce foods that are sour, sweet or salty and concentrate on foods with a pungent or astringent taste.
Vegetables that are good for pacifying Kapha include green, leafy varieties, most root vegetables and light salads. Avoid tomatoes, sweet potatoes and zucchini. Fruits should be light, such as apples and pears. Reduce or avoid heavy fruits like bananas and pineapples.
All beans are good for pacifying Kapha but moderate intake of tofu and soy bean products. Most sweeteners should be avoided, although raw honey in moderation can alleviate an excess of Kapha.
Avoid salt, but add flavor by using virtually any other spices you like. Heat giving spices like ginger and black pepper, chili and turmeric can be beneficial, as can digestive spices like cardamom and fennel seeds.
Drink hot ginger tea regularly to bring Kapha into balance, and try to moderate your consumption of alcohol.
Kapha Body Type recommended foods are:
Apple, berries, cherries, mangos, peaches, pears, and raisins are recommended. Dried figs and plums are good, but other dried fruits should be avoided if possible.
In general, you can eat fruit at least one hour before or after meals but not in the evenings.
Spicy and bitter: red beets, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, eggplant, garlic, lettuce, mushrooms, onions, parsley, peas, radish, spinach, sprouts, fennel, and Brussels sprouts.
Barley, corn, millet, oats, basmati rice (small quantities).
Eggs & Meat
Eggs (scrambled eggs, no fried eggs), chicken, turkey.
All legumes except for white beans and black lentils. Azuki and black beans are good.
Only organic honey and jaggery.
Milk Products & Substitutes
Reduced-fat milk in small quantities; avoid fatty cheeses and curd (quark). Soy milk is preferable in general.
Walnut and corn oil, but just a little.
Lifestyle Tips for Balancing Kapha Body Type.
The heavy, slow quality of Kapha can sometimes lead to boredom and depression so seek stimulation in new hobbies, new friendships and new forms of music, art or other entertainments.
Routines are much beloved by Kaphas so begin a new morning routine by giving yourself an “energy bath” to wake up your meridians and get your body moving.
Stay warm and avoid dampness. Use a heat lamp or heated pads on sensitive areas, wear natural fabrics, especially next to the skin, and keep moving!
Kapha Body Type Combinations
If you are a Kapha-Pitta Type you have two opposites to consider when looking at imbalances and your state of health. Kapha is slow and heavy, Pitta is light and fast, or sharp. Kapha is cold and moist; Pitta is hot and dry. Kapha is stable; Pitta is spreading. You may find that the seasons affect your constitution if you are a Kapha-Pitta, so take appropriate action during winter or summer to regulate your temperature. Do be aware that the one quality that Kapha and Pitta share is oiliness so it may be that this needs addressing more often than any other. You may need to adopt a skin care routine to balance oil in the skin, or you may find that you easily fall into a “slipperiness” of character leading you to use manipulation of others in order to advantage yourself.
A Kapha-Vata combination is slightly easier to manage in that the qualities of these two Doshas are not in direct opposition to each other. The fiery aspect of Vata can provide a nice counterpoint to the cold of Kapha. Likewise, Vata’s ethereal aspect may naturally balance out an excess of heaviness of both body and attitude in this Dosha combination. Research all three Doshas so that you become familiar with your own patterns and qualities.