Kapha

What is Kapha Dosha?

What is Kapha Dosha

According to Ayurvedic philosophy, there are three doshas (a.k.a. humors) present in every cell, tissue, and organ of our body that govern our psychobiological functioning. These doshas—vata, pitta, and kapha—comprise the five potential states of matter (i.e., space (or ether), air, fire, earth, and water). All five of these elements are present in each dosha, but the two predominant elements in a dosha determine its defining qualities. When in balance, the three doshas create health; when out of balance, they cause disease. They are also responsible for the vast variety of differences and preferences that exist among individuals, and they influence all we are and all we do, from our food choices to the ways we relate to others.

As the forces that govern our physiology, the doshas regulate the creation, maintenance, and destruction of body tissue, as well as the elimination of waste products. They also act as psychological drivers, governing our emotions and mental state. When in balance, the doshas generate understanding, compassion, and love and sustain mental health. When their balance is disturbed by stress, improper diet, and environmental conditions, they give rise to disturbances such as anger, fear, anxiety, confusion, depression, and disease.

The kapha dosha combines the prithvi(earth) and apa(water) elements. In ancient Sanskrit texts, kapha is conceptualized “that which holds things together, embraces, and provides coherence.” It is slow, heavy, cool, dense, soft, greasy, unctuous, sticky, cloudy, liquid, and sweet. Kapha holds the body together, giving it shape, form, and stability. The combined elements of kapha are responsible for the gross structure of the body and for its solid and liquid components including phlegm, mucus, synovial fluid, and plasma. Kapha also fills the intercellular spaces of the body as connective tissues such as tendons.

Kapha occurs mainly in the chest, throat, head, pancreas, lymph, fat, nose, and tongue, but its primary site is the stomach, where much of our immune system resides. As the dosha that regulates body’s protective and immune functions, kapha  is related to ojas(our innate reserves of strength, vigor, and resistance to disease). In addition to building immunity, kapha promotes growth. 

The water element of kapha softens the earthen structures of the tissues, moistening and lubricating the skin, joints, and respiratory system. These watery qualities also help heal wounds and support our sense of smell and taste.  

Psychologically, excess kapha is responsible for the emotions of attachment, greed, lust, and envy. When kapha is in the balance, it expresses love, calmness, and forgiveness; when out of balance it gives rise to heaviness, slowness, coolness, oiliness, dampness, and stasis.

 

Disclaimer
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease. 

Eating for the Season: Recipes to keep Kapha in Balance!

Eating for the Season

Coming out of November and into December we are moving from the Vata season to Kapha season. As the cold and wetness of winter settle in, the effects of the winter climates are obvious, but even in more temperate climates, you can still notice the subtler changes that come with winter. With any shift in season, there are steps you can take to stay balanced through your diet. During this time Kahpa and Vata are both vulnerable so its best to approach a diet that concentrates on herbs and foods that carry dual tastes in order to avoid aggravating your Vata while balancing Kapha.

In general avoid refined sweets, excessively cold, dry,  unctuous, salty and fatty foods. I know it seems hard with the holidays, but if you keep this in mind you may notice the ease that it creates in your health during this time. It’s best to slightly increase the pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes in your meals during Kapha season. However, as it is also important for Vata to pay attention to your sensitivity to these tastes, and learn to adjust your diet according to the daily conditions. For example, if it’s a strongly Vata day (i.e. dry and windy) despite being Kapha season, focus on more Vata-balancing foods and tastes. Otherwise, eat to balance Kapha and Vata with warming meals. Also be mindful of your agni or digestive fire. Since Kapha season can contribute to sluggish digestion, eat at regularly scheduled times without skipping meals or overeating. As always, eat your largest meal at lunch, when the digestive fires of Pitta are strongest.

Here are some simple recipes that can support you in balancing your diet this time of year.

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup (serves 4)

  • 1/2 gallon of water

  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats

  • 1 tablespoon of finally chopped fresh cilantro

  • 1 tablespoon cumin powder

  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon of grated fresh ginger

  • juice of 1 fresh lemon

  • 1 tablespoon rock salt

  • 1 tablespoon soya oil

  • 2 scallions chopped

  • parsley

  • landcress

Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Add squash, oats, cilantro, spices including black pepper and salt, fresh ginger, lemon juice. Cover and simmer on medium heat for 35 minutes. Use a flat bottom ladle and puree the squash. Heat oil in a small skillet and saute scallions for about 2 minutes, then add to the creamed soup. Cover and simmer 5 minutes. Serve hot and garnish with fresh parsley and landcress.

Seven-Grain Bread (serves 4)

  • 1 Tablespoon of natural yeast

  • 1/2 cup warm water

  • 2 tablespoons of sesame butter

  • 1/2 spelt flour

  • 1/2 cup unbleached whole wheat flour

  • 1/2 cup soya flour

  • 1/2 cup millet flour

  • 1/2 cup of oat bran

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats

  • 1/2 cup cracked wheat

  • 1 tablespoon of Sucanat

  • 1/2 teaspoon of rock salt

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water

Dissolve the yeast in warm water, then dilute the sesame butter in the yeast solution. Combine the flours, bran rolled oats, cracked wheat, Sucanat, salt and remaining water together, then add the yeast-sesame butter mixture. Kneed into a sticky dough. Transfer dough to a large oiled bowl. Cover securely and let rise in a warm place for 40 minutes. Punch down the dough, cover, and let rise again for 40 minutes, until it doubles in size. Form dough into four rolls and place on oiled backing trays. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Whole Mung Dhal (serves 4)

  • 1 Cup whole mung dhal

  • 2 1/4 cups water

  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric

  • 1 pinch of sea salt

  • 1 tablespoon ghee

  • 1 minced green chili pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger

  • 1 tablespoon Masala

  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Wash mung dhal until water runs clear. Soak in 3 coups of cold water overnight. Drain. Boil 2 cups of water and add dhal, turmeric, and salt. Cover and simmer over medium heat for 50 minutes. In a small skillet, heat ghee, green chili pepper, and ginger for a few minutes. Add the Masala toward the end of browning. Add to dhal with lemon juice and remaining water. Cover and continue to simmer for an additional 30 minutes over low heat.

Sauteed Golden beets with Masala (serves 4)

  • 4 golden beets

  • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil

  • 1 tablespoon masala

  • 2 yellow onions of shallots, half moon slices

  • 1 teaspoon rock salt

  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

Scrub the beets and cut into bite-size pieces. Heat cast-iron skillet with sunflower oil. Stir in masala until slightly browned. Add shallots, beets, and salt. Stir and add two tablespoons of water. Cover and allow to cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, garnish with fresh parsley and serve hot.

Caraway Brown Rice (serves 4)

  • 2 cups long-grain brown rice

  • 3 1/2 cups boiling water

  • 1 pinch of sea salt

  • 2 teaspoons of caraway seeds

Wash rice until water runs clear and add to boiling water. Add salt. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 25 minutes. Dry roast caraway seeds in a small cast-iron pan until golden. Add to rice mixture and cook and additional 5 minutes. Serve warm.

Red Cabbage and Onion Soup (serves 4)

  • 1/2 gallon of water

  • 1 small red cabbage shredded

  • 2 red onions, chopped

  • 1 tablespoon coriander powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder

  • 1 tablespoon dried dill

  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley

  • 2 cloves of garlic

  • 1 tablespoon of rock salt

  • 1/4 cup cashew butter

  • 1 red onion, thin- half moon slices

Bring water to a boil in a large soup pot. Add the cabbage and onions, along with the coriander and cayenne powders, dried dill, parsley and salt. Lightly crush the garlic cloves with a hand stone and remove the skin. Add the lightly crushed cloves of garlic to the soup mixture. Cover and simmer on medium heat for 35 minutes, until onions are practically dissolved. Add cashew butter and stir the soup until it dissolves. Garnish the hot soup with thinly sliced red onions remove from heat, cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Serve hot with a heaping dollop of Millet Supreme.

Millet Supreme (serves 4)

  • 3 1/2 cups water

  • 2 cups millet

  • 1/4 cup fresh peas

  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric

  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon ajwain seeds

  • 1 teaspoon rock salt

  • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil

  • 1/4 cup currents

  • 1/2 cup roasted almonds, slivered

  • juice of 1/2 lemon

Bring water to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan. Thoroughly was the millet and add to boiling water, along with the peas, turmeric, cumin powder, ajwain seeds and salt. Cover and simmer on medium heat for 20 minutes. Heat the oil in a small skillet, and add the currants and almonds. Stir for another few minutes until currants begin to swell. Add the lemon juice. Add to the millet, and continue cooking for 10 minutes more. Serve warm.

 

 

Disclaimer
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease.

 

Balance Kapha

"Snigdhah shita gururmandah shlakshno mritsnah sthirah kaphah".— Ashtanga Hrdayam: Sutrasthana I:12

Kapha is unctuous, cool, heavy, slow, smooth, soft, and static. Understanding this provides you with the keys to understanding how to balance Kapha. Having a Kapha-predominate Prakriti means that these qualities will express themselves throughout your physical, mental and emotional makeup.

A basic tenet of Ayurvedic medicine, is that “like increases like”. So if one is Kapha, cold weather, dense foods and those things that are inherently cool and heavy will increase Kapha in your system. For example if a Kapha person who lives in Boston, and drinks a large frozen smoothie in the evening time, may find themselves the next day having a cold. This is because you have increased the heavy and dense qualities through out the body and under these conditions it will be more difficult to move it out, Kapha in nature is stagnant.

With this understanding we use opposites as “medicine.” It is common for our predominant dosha, Kapha in this case to increase more quickly then any other dosha. If the dosha increases in the body, naturally we want to decrease it to restore a healthy balance to our constitution. “Medicines” are substances that decrease the excess Kapha by providing the opposite qualities to it. These qualities are predominatly dry, light, warm and active. Therefore it is best for people with a imbalance of Kapha to seek out enviornments both physical and emotional that possess these opposite qualities. This includes food, diet and routines.

One with increased Kapha will do well with warming, light, freshly cooked foods to maintain balance. Foods and herbs with a bitter, pungent and astringent taste will help to decrease Kapha. These tastes should be predominate in your diet. Bibhitaki, Chitrak and Punarvana or three herbs that can support in removing excess Kapha from the body and maintain balance.

The ideal environment for Kapha to live would be warm and dry. It is good to focus on keeping warm and dry if you are in a cold wet environment and during the winter seasons. Activity can be one of the best medicines for kapha. Try to find something that motivates you, ensure that you exercise regularly, maybe join a race or competition that will give you that extra push.

Daily self-massages with warm sesame oil will help keep kapha from becoming stagnant. Be sure you do the massage with vigor and ensure the oil is warm almost hot. You can use aromatics that are heating in nature such as Juniper, Eucalyptus, Marjoram, and Clove, by apply to your clothing or in a diffuser in your home, car and office.

These are just a few tips. If you would like more information on how to balance Kapha schedule an online appointment here.

Visit the Kapha Yoga tips article to know how to customize your daily yoga practice to balance Kapha.

 

 

Disclaimer
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease.

Kapha Dosha Yoga Tips

The main qualities of kapha are unctuous, cool, heavy, slow, smooth, soft and stable. It is also dense, cloudy and viscous. A yoga practice for a kapha individual should be one creating space, stimulation, warmth and buoyancy. Kapha types have the most stamina and strength of all the doshas, but when out of balance, suffer from lethargy and excess weight. If you are predominantly kapha, a stimulating, energizing yoga practice is ideal. It's important to challenge yourself and create heat in your body, to counter kapha's natural tendency to feel cold and sluggish. Move through your flow sequences quickly (though always with conscious awareness) to lighten and warm your body. Most of the standing poses are invigorating, especially if you hold them for a longer time. Try maintaining your asanas for up to 20 breaths. Back bends are also heating, helping to open the chest and circulate the life-giving energy of prana throughout the body. 

Doing your yoga in the early morning hours of kapha (6-10am) will help keep you more energized and motivated throughout the day. At the beginning or end of your practice, you can practice bhastrika or bellows breath, which cleanses the body and energizes the digestive system. Kaphas can cultivate all of this by following some basic guidelines:

 

  • Practice at a vigorous pace and intensity.

  • Focus on the subtlety of the pose and how it creates an expansive presence in the body and energy field.

  • Practice in a warm space.

  • Use a strong forceful breath during practice.

  • When you are ready to release the pose, take one more breath.

  • Keep your chest and shoulders open and lifted as you practice.

  • Have a sharp upward gaze.

  • Feel a sense of lightness in your poses.

  • Pause for a moment between your inhalations and exhalations.

  • Challenge yourself.

  • Keep moving. Have short resting periods between poses.

  • Enjoy a restorative pose for final relaxation.

  • Be precise in your poses.

  • Pay close attention to your alignment.

  • Dont give up!

 

Disclaimer
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease.