• Is your digestion slow? Do you feel heavy after meals?
• Do you seem to accumulate weight just by looking at food?
• Are you often congested with lots of mucous?
• Do you like to sleep a lot? Do you often wake up tired?
• Would you rather sit on the couch then move?
• Does your skin often feel damp?
• Is it hard for you to deal with change?
• Do you feel unmotivated to do anything, almost depressed?
If you have answered yes to many of the questions above, then your Kapha is high and you would greatly benefit from balancing it.
So what is KAPHA?
Kapha derives from the elements of Earth and Water and translates as “that which sticks.” It is the energy of building and lubrication that provides the body with physical form, structure, and the smooth functioning of all its parts. Kapha can be thought of as the essential cement, glue, and lubrication of the body in one.
The qualities of Kapha are moist, cold, heavy, dull, soft, sticky, and static. A Kapha individual will display physical and mental characteristics that reflect these qualities in both a balanced and imbalanced state.
The main locations of Kapha in the body are the chest, throat, lungs, head, lymph, fatty tissue, connective tissue, ligaments, and tendons.
Functions of kapha
▪ Strength, stamina, energy
▪ Production of mucous
▪ Sense of Support, stability, & Groundedness
▪ Gaseous exchange in lungs
▪ Repair & regeneration
Kapha grounds Vata and Pitta and helps offset imbalances related to these doshas.
Just as a nourishing rainstorm may turn into a rampant flood, the fluids of the body may flood the bodily tissues, contributing to a heavy dampness that weighs down the body and clouds the mind. This dense, cold, and swampy environment becomes the breeding ground for a number of bodily disorders such as obesity, sinus congestion, and anything related to mucous. Mentally, the loving and calm disposition of the Kapha individual may transform into lethargy, attachment, and depression.
Physical Characteristics of Kapha
The kapha body is physically strong, compact and wide—with large thighs, hips, buttocks, and chest—and tends to be perpetually overweight. Kapha types typically have large, attractive eyes that are blue or black in color. Their skin is fair, cool and often gleaming. Kapha hair is thick, abundant, usually blond or black, and wavy. Kapha individuals tend to over-produce mucus and other milky secretions, and their voices are soft—often blocked by excess mucus. Kapha types are very graceful, have a natural, erotic sensuality about them, and are usually very fertile.
The Kapha Mind
Kapha types are generally complacent, calm, grounded, nurturing and loving. Kapha governs love, patience, forgiveness, greed, attachment, and mental inertia. The Kapha personality is stoic, even-tempered, reliable, and often a cohesive force in the community. Kapha types are natural teachers, parents, healers, chefs, accountants, and technicians. They also tend to appreciate dance, poetry, and music. Kapha types move through the world at a slow and methodical pace and are genuinely concerned with the welfare of others. They are very committed to and protective of family and they tend to create a home environment that is nurturing and sustaining for those around them. They can be quite attached to the material world and tend to accumulate possessions. The kapha mind finds it very difficult to distinguish between items that are truly necessary and those that are a luxury, so kapha types are also prone to hoarding things.
Kapha Lifestyle Habits
Kapha individuals tend to love heat and they suffer in cold, damp climates. Kapha types radiate solidity and equilibrium, so much so that vata and pitta types are often replenished simply by being in their presence. Kapha types are very hard working but generally prefer to lay low, even to the point of laziness. Because of their tendency toward lethargy, kapha types can do better if they commit to a non-sedentary life, following a strict schedule that keeps them moving. Among all the doshas, kapha types can endure and benefit from the most intense forms of exercise. Ideally, a kapha type would rise before 6 a.m., take a shower, and have a solid workout before breakfast.
Kapha Appetite and Digestion
Kapha types are ruled by the senses of taste and smell; they love to eat—especially rich, indulgent foods and sweets. They have a tendency to consume more than their metabolism can process, they gain weight easily, and they tend to have regular elimination. Kapha individuals to have a light breakfast is always better.
(or skip it altogether), eat their main meal at lunch, and have a light dinner relatively early in the evening. They can benefit from limiting whole grains and starches, eating lots of vegetables, favoring light, warm, and spicy foods.
Kapha Sleep and Energy Cycles
Kapha individuals can sleep for very long hours, usually on their stomachs or in the fetal position. They typically sleep for eight to twelve hours per night and can easily indulge in more sleep than they really need. Ideally, kapha types would will themselves to sleep only about seven hours per night. If a kapha individual sleeps past 6 a.m.—when kapha becomes predominant in the atmosphere—they may find it incredibly difficult to get out of bed, and may experience a lasting sense of heaviness and lethargy throughout the day. So if kapha people do rise before 6 am it’s always better for them.
Symptoms/ conditions of Kapha imbalance:
Because kapha is responsible for nourishment, anything that we can understand as an “excess” is usually an aggravation of kapha (excess mucous, water retention, excess weight, etc.). An excessive lifestyle, as is common in the west, is the thing most responsible for an increase in kapha.
The following list includes specific ways kapha becomes aggravated.
▪ Excessive sweet, salty, sour, oily, or fatty foods
▪ Eating heavy meals, or overeating
▪ Excessive fluid intake, especially of cold drinks
▪ Slow, sluggish digestion
▪ Excessive sleep
▪ Eating to offset emotions (like indulging in sweets when depressed)
▪ Spending too much time in cool, damp climates
▪ Not engaging in physical activity
▪ Spending most of one’s time indoors (especially on the couch watching TV!)
▪ Avoiding intellectual challenges
All of these things done habitually can cause kapha to increase. Also, late winter and spring are considered “kapha season”, so during that time of year we are most likely to see kapha increase.
So how can you tell if you have a kapha imbalance? Here are 7 symptoms to look for:
1 Weight gain or obesity. This is the most obvious and prevalent symptom of a kapha imbalance, and it’s the result of slow, sluggish digestion. Taking this herbal formula can help improve sluggish digestion and speed up metabolism.
2 Lethargy. Lethargy is a result of the heavy, slow, and dull qualities of kapha. One of the best ways to reduce this symptom is regular exercise. I recommend 20-30 minutes of brisk walking every day to get kapha moving.
3 Cold, congestion, or cough. One of the main sites of kapha is the lungs, in the form of mucous and pulmonary fluid. Because of this, pranayama, or yogic breathing, is one of the best therapies for kapha, because it helps to bring lightness and dryness to this part of the body.
4 Water retention, swelling, or edema. Whenever there is fluid retention in the body, it’s usually related to stagnation in the lymphatic system, which is considered a “kapha” system. Practicing abhyanga or dry brushing can stimulate the lymphatic system and get things flowing again, reducing water retention. And depending where the body is retaining water, certain yoga postures can also help to reduce swelling (such as practicing inversions for swelling in the feet and ankles).
5 Increased cholesterol and triglycerides. Excess kapha in the blood can present itself through elevated cholesterol and triglycerides.
6 Diabetes. Diabetes is considered a kapha-type disease, often resulting from excessive sweets and/or improper functioning the the pancreas. There is a strong genetic component to this disease. People with a family history of diabetes may be able to prevent the disease by adopting a kapha-pacifying diet and lifestyle.
7 Tumors. Because one of kapha’s functions is growth, any irregular or excessive growth in the body is usually considered a kapha imbalance. Benign tumors, such as lipomas, fibromas, or osteomas, are some such examples. However, malignant tumors are usually considered a tridoshic (and more complicated) imbalance.