Kapha – the nourishing energy
In order for a person to fully answer the question What is Kapha Dosha, he must enter the ancient Indian philosophy, religion and way of thinking. Which is not so easy for a man from the Western world. In general, however, we may say that Kapha is one of the three energies called Doshas, through which the body carries out all its functions – physical, psychological, mental. The other two energies are Vata and Pitta. In the philosophy of Ayurveda, the Doshas are different combinations of the primary 5 elements pf which the Universe is created.
The air and space are Vata, fire and water are Pitta, earth and water form Kapha. Of course, these concepts are philosophically summarized and go beyond direct visual ideas about them. Vata is the driving force /like the wind/, Pitta is transforming /just like fire/, Kapha is connecting and nourishing /grounding/ Dosha. The changing Vata and Pitta need to be supported, stabilized by Kapha, which connects everything. This dosha is responsible for the stability of body structure and condition, for the immunity and for survival.
The three doshas are balanced in every person at his birth. Very rarely the doshas are in three equal parts in this equilibrium – usually one or two are predominant in different ratios. The predominant energy determines the dosha type of the person. When the energies are in balance, one has good health and diseases do not occur. When one or more Doshas go out of balance, diseases occur. And each Dosha causes specific ailments.
Every process in the body, the function of each organ and each system, is in direct connection to one of the Doshas. They are responsible for the assimilation, formation, development and disintegration of tissues, disposal of waste products, maintenance of the health and immune system. Doshas are also responsible for emotions and mental states: love, empathy, anger, greed, fear and so on. They also form the preference of the person – foods, tastes, lifestyle, and so on.
Kapha is related to liquids and it is responsible for the consolidation, it is the “lubricant” of tissues, strength and height, as well as it manages the immunity. It supplies the body with hydration, flexibility, it also plays important role in digestion. Psychologically, it is related to the the state of harmony, love, stability, emotional and psychological condition and perseverance.
Its characteristics correspond to the specifics of the elements earth and water – cold, heavy, moist, oily, smooth, still, dense. All this is a response, tough not quite complete one, to the question “What is Kapha dosha”.
Physical characteristics of the people with predominant Kapha dosha
The Kapha people have a well-developed, strong body. Their chest is big, they have strong muscles, big and heavy bones. They have good appetite, but their digestion is not so good, because the metabolism is slow.
That is why they tend to gain excessive kilograms and hardly lose weight. Women of the Kapha type have big thighs, full arms and big breasts, a little bit short and fat legs but their walk is graceful. Men are broad-shouldered, short with well-developed muscles, if they are not obese, with big thighs and strong torso.
In Kapha, everything is slow and calm – they move slowly, they eat slowly, they speak monotonously and the pulse is balanced and slow. Their movements are smooth. The skin is white, shining, soft and smooth, it remains fresh for a long time. It also can be pale and cold. In general it is greasier compared to the skin of people of the other types of Doshas. It is also thick, so the tendon and veins below cannot be seen. The eyes of the Kapha people are big, the lashes are long and thick, with big eyebrows. Their teeth are big, white and strong, the hair is generally darker, strong and soft.
They are physically very tough but avoid physical stress. They quickly become hungry when doing physical activity, and their strong appetite makes them eat immediately after the workout or the physical activity. This type of people like to sleep a lot, but if the dosha is out of balance, they experience problems with sleep and difficulties going out of bed in the morning.
In general, Kapha is characterized by good health and a sense of coziness, peace and happiness. Since their metabolism is slow and their lifestyle is monotonous, peaceful, without emotional and mental extremes, Kapha people live longer than people of Vata type and Pitta type.
Emotional and mental characteristics of the people of Kapha type
When Kapha is balanced, people of this type of Dosha are peaceful and balanced. There is no disorder in their inner world, it is in order and they feel in harmony.
This balance is sustainable – Kapha people don’t experience sudden and extreme mood swings, they overthink their decisions carefully and pragmatically, and regarding their thoughts and emotions they don’t “fly in the sky”. They are conservative, reasonable and stable, they rely on traditions and adapt very well to the material world.
They remain calm in critical situations, without panic and illogical actions, their reactions are stable, which has positive effect on others. Moreover, they are very loyal and consistent. This makes them reliable and trustworthy to others. Generally, they are nice and joyful, as well as they are very empathetic to the problems of others – they are compassionate, caring and easily forgiving.
At the same time, behind the calmness there is a great deal of sensitivity, especially to injustice. So, from the disappointments, they accumulate the negatives feelings inside, which can make them sick. For example, if they experience neglect or underestimation of their good work, they are prone to depression and various diseases, even different types of cancer.
If Kapha goes out of balance, people with this Dosha can become capricious, critical and arrogant. Characteristic indicators of Kapha imbalance are increased manifestations of greed, which is otherwise simply attachment to the material world, as well as lust, envy, egocentrism, dogmatism, the imposion of which can lead to tyranny. If, despite their common sense, they refuse to make decisions, they show intense laziness, sleepiness, chronic melancholy, combined with stubbornness, persistence, and this also indicates Kapha imbalance.
Kapha’s predisposition to illnesses and Ayurvedic treatment of the imbalance
Diseases occurring due to imbalance of the “watery” Kapha are related to increased fluid in the organism, localized in the mouth and tongue, nose, respiratory system, stomach, spleen, around the heart, where there is a protective sack, nails and hair.
Typical diseases of Kapha:
- Runny nose
The imbalanced Kapha can cause gastrointestinal problems, because it plays a role in the primary processing of food – its liquefaction. It can also cause problems with the joints, because it is responsible for their lubrication, as well as nerve problems because it nourishes the nervous system.
It is also responsible for the fluids in the heart, so it can cause heart problems. This is intensified by the tendency to gain weight. Due to the low physical activity, strong appetite, poor digestion and slow metabolism, the people of Kapha type are also prone to accumulation of excessive weight.
Overweight and obesity are associated with a number of diseases – high blood pressure, varicose veins, heart attack and diabetes. This type of people are inert and resist changes in life, that’s why they are at risk of states such as melancholy and depression.
The activity of Kapha gets intensified in late winter as its high levels continue also in the beginning of the spring. These are the periods during which the risk of development of mental and physical problems increases for people with that Dosha, including with regard to headaches, cysts and tumors.
The healing approaches of Ayurveda for Kapha imbalances are complex. Nutrition is very important for balancing the Dosha– there is a list of selected suitable types of foods, time of the day and order of consumption. This is accompanied by special therapies for external and internal cleansing – Puvakarma and Panchakarma. They include herbs and oils, as well as their combinations. An integral part of the healing complex is also the yoga practice – exercises and asanas that have direct effect on specific health problems, so they also contribute to the overall physical and mental harmony.
Ayurvedic diet for balanced Kapha
Ayurveda provides a special nutrition and diet for balancing the Kapha energy. In general, the food should be dry /cooked with a little amount of water/, light and warm. The suitable flavors are astringent, spicy and bitter. These flavors can be achieved with different spices. Spicy foods are useful because they activate digestive processes and the body gets warmer.
They are especially very suitable during the winter season because they compensate the moisture and coldness of Kapha. Firming and bitter tastes also help to reduce appettite. Sour, sweet and salty flavors increase Kapha and therefore they are contraindicated for this Dosha. Fats and sugar should be limited as much as possible.
Breakfast in the morning should be very light, it is enough to drink a glass of water with fresh lemon juice and a tablespoon of honey. You can also consume unsweetened hot ginger tea or croutons with bitter cocoa. Dishes for Kapha should include salads, fresh vegetables and legumes.
It is recommended before eating to drink a glass of water – hot or warm. It is best the dinner to be light, for example, stewed vegetables. Hot and spicy foods that cause sweating, not only warm up Kapha, but also help to release the mucus. The low-fat boiled milk is the only one of the dairy products that is suitable for people of the Kapha type. Other dairy products should be avoided.
Only honey is allowed of the sweet foods. Suitable plant oils are allowed in small amounts, for example, corn and sunflower oil, as the other types should be avoided because they increase the fatty Kapha. Only bread made from sprouted wheat is allowed – pancakes, sweets and cakes should be avoided. Almost all vegetables are recommended, but most of all radishes, eggplant, different types of cabbage, turnip, pepper, spinach, carrots, garlic, onion, celery, peas and so on.
Sweet and juicy vegetables should be avoided: cucumbers, tomatoes, potatoes, okra and zucchini. The astringent fruits are suitable for Kapha – pears, apples, apricots, pomegranates, peaches and so on, as well as dried fruits. As with vegetables, here again should be avoided the juicy and sweet fruits – oranges, watermelons, plums, avocado, grapes, melons, kiwi, papaya and so on.
The recommended cereals include rye, barley, corn, millet, buckwheat, as oats and rice should be avoided. The useful spices are almost all, especially very useful is ginger. However, you should limit the salt, vinegar, soy sauce and ketchup. White meat can be consumed in small amounts – turkey or chicken, shrimps and fish. Other types of seafood and red meats are not recommended.
Protecting Kapha from diseases
The health problems of Kapha generally come from their inertia and the low physical activity, staying in front of TV, a lot of sleep and intense appetite. Moreover, they love to eat a lot of sweet foods – biscuits, chocolate, cakes, ice cream, sweet fruits and yoghurt. They are also attracted by fatty and salty foods. All these things, however, lead to retention of water in the body and weight gain. The accumulation of excessive Kapha slows down digestion, as well as metabolism, decreases the digestive fire and leads to obesity.
People of Kapha type will be in very good shape if they practice various physical activities, if they go on trips, and if they build different social contacts. They must intentionally limit the eating and sleep, as well as TV time. “Movements” can be on a daily basis and seasonal. At the end of winter and in early spring, when Kapha gets activated, people of this type should go out of their inertia and start actively cleaning the house, review, clean and order their clothes in the wardrobe, finding work in the garden, or the villa.
Among the daily physical activities can be included cycling, swimming, various active sports. The load should be intensive in order to burn fat and tissues to get rid of excessive fluids, as well as the blood circulation to improve. Suitable for men, for example, are water polo, football, judo, tennis and so on. For women of the Kapha type is recommended to regularly go to dancing, aerobics and fitness.
During the day, Kapha has two peaks – from 06:00 to 10:00 and from 18:00 to 22:00h. Then the energy becomes heavy, thick and inert, and the Kapha people should make an effort to resist the temptations. They should get up early, then take a shower and exercise.
The main meal should be at lunch, and they shouldn’t go to bed at that time, but it is recommended to have at least a 15-20 minutes walk. The dinner should be light and consumed early, before 18:00h. After dinner are recommended outdoor activities such as seminars, going to courses and so on.
Yoga should be practiced twice a day, as it should include asanas that help to normalize the function of the endocrine glands, release the mucus from the body and against fat folds. The yoga practice should be performed before all other types of physical activities.