Kapha dosha’s gunas or characteristics are heavy, slow, cold, static, soft, dense and opaque. It is not surprising therefore that people who are predominantly kapha tend to have an aversion to strenuous physical activity, to feel the cold and to have high levels of stamina and endurance.
Choosing the right type or form of yoga to suit your dosha is extremely important. Yoga and Ayurveda are sister sciences, with one complementing and supporting the other. You may know that you are predominantly pitta, for example, but at times you may simply be having a “kapha day” and need to choose a form of yoga along with foods and other factors to help balance excess kapha. Conversely, you may have too much vata affecting your behaviour and your mental processes and feel that you need to balance this with more kapha.
What are the Benefits of Yoga for Kapha?
Balancing excess kapha brings many benefits, including the invigoration of the circulatory and lymphatic systems. It will warm up your entire body and give you a much needed energy boost, especially if you practice in the morning, between 6am and 10am.
An excess of vata or kapha can be balanced by following a kapha-centered yoga practice, in which case the benefits will be a grounded, nourishing and cooling practice which will help to calm nervous anxiety or lack of concentration and mental cloudiness.
Let us assume that you are predominantly kapha in constitution and you need a regular practice that helps to balance this. You will need to bring in the gunas that counteract kapha’s natural propensities towards complacency and stagnation. This means looking for the qualities of light, mobility and warmth.
What is the Best Yoga Style for Kapha?
The best yoga styles for balancing an excess of kapha are those that incorporate plenty of movement. A stimulating and energizing practice is ideal, so avoid classes or styles that have you practicing the corpse pose for 30 minutes before you even start! As a kapha it is important to challenge yourself and to create heat in your body to counteract natural tendencies towards sluggishness. Move through the flow of asanas smoothly and quickly, maintaining focus throughout and setting your intention to be consciously present in your body as you do this.
Kaphas are very often strong and stable individuals, meaning that they can hold the poses for a long time with relatively little effort. However, in order to balance kapha you need to avoid holding the asana, and to move swiftly on the next pose. If you find that you are a little breathless you will have the pace about right.
Try brightening the room in which you practice, and if you use music, try varying this with a slightly quicker tempo. You may also wish to raise the temperature of the room slightly, or practice outside in the sunshine if you are lucky enough to be in the right country or place.
Which Yoga Poses are Best for Kapha?
Most of the standing poses are good for balancing kapha, especially the standing forward bend which will bring heat to the head and thence to the rest of the body.
The warrior is a good pose for kaphas, lifting both the arms and the gaze as it does. This helps to bring more heat and lightness into the body. Backbends are also beneficial as they open the chest and lungs, invigorate the internal organs and generally release the stagnant energy can be a characteristic of too much kapha. Try the Bow, King Dancer and the Locust.
Inverted poses are also good for kapha balancing, but be careful not to compress the cervical vertebrae too much. The Fish pose should be held only briefly, but is worth incorporating into your practice as it is excellent for opening the chest as well as inverting the head.
Practice the Sun Salutation at a fairly brisk tempo to begin your session, and if you usually end with a seated meditation consider switching to a walking or moving meditation to encourage movement and decrease stagnation.
Poses to Limit for Kapha Dosha
Limit the more static poses if you are trying to balance kapha. This means taking shorter breaks in the Child’s Pose or the Corpse, for example. It is important to stay relaxed of course, but beware of lethargy or complacency if you are trying to counteract natural laziness!