Every Wednesday I’ll hand over the blog to my cousin and yoga expert, Lisa Veronese, to help you and I open our minds to different ways to treat our body well.
Balancing your Dosha, Part 3: Kapha
by Lisa Veronese
Note: If you haven’t yet completed the dosha quiz from last week to discover your dominant Ayurvedic constitution, you can do so online.
Kapha is one of the three doshas, or constitutions, in the Ayurvedic wellness system. This is the dosha that “makes things stick together”, and governs moisture and mucous in the body.
You are a kapha type (or are experiencing elevated kapha energy) if:
- you have a solid body and great stamina, but have difficulty losing weight (you also tend to retain water);
- your skin is thick and “juicy”, and you have large round eyes and big, white teeth;
- your hair is thick and shiny;
- you tend to be sluggish or slow-moving, and can be lazy;
- when you get sick, your illness lingers in the lungs (congestion);
- you typically sleep soundly—but you also have difficulty getting out of bed;
- your default negative emotion is depression, and you may be clingy, resistant to change, and can suffer from addiction.
A kapha person in balance is contented, easy-going and a comfort to those around them. They are friendly, steady people. An aggravated kapha type is obsessive, depressive, lazy and insensitive. Physically, a kapha imbalance is experienced as weight gain as well as an increased mucous production in the lungs (chronic bronchitis, phlegmy cough, asthma), and the intestines (seen in elimination). They also suffer from allergies (watery eyes, runny nose).
Ways to bring kapha into balance:
- Dairy is one of the worst dietary triggers for kapha as it increases mucous production (and is high in sugar). Use only small amounts of low-fat milk or yogurt, or eliminate it entirely.
- Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables, but stay away from heavy fruits (think bananas, avocados, coconuts), and the starchy, sweeter vegetables (sweet potatoes, squash). Cook your vegetables by baking, broiling or grilling rather than wet methods like steaming or poaching.
- Spices are great for kapha types (except for salt and sugar, which increase water retention and weight gain). Kick up the fire in your foods with ginger, pepper, cardamom and clove and make the bland or bitter vegetables (that are good for kapha) more palatable.
- Choose beans, eggs and lean white meats for your proteins. Avoid too much red meat.
- You are the dosha with the sweet tooth! Stay away from pastries and other foods which combine sugar and fat.
- Because kapha digestion is more sluggish, food sticks around in the system longer increasing the possibility for toxins to be absorbed. Choose only organic fruits, vegetables, seeds and sprouts and wash your food well. Increase the amount of fibre to keep things moving!
- When kapha is out of balance, it may be hard to leave the house, let alone get a workout in. You, more than anyone, need to set schedules and stick to them. Cardio and high-energy movement is perfect for kicking your sluggishness to the curb.
- Avoid overly calm practices like walking, and gentle yoga. Unless you are just getting back into exercise, build heat! Kapha is like a frozen river—you need heat to thaw it!
- Join a class or find an exercise partner who will help get you out the door and keep you accountable.
- No matter how tired you may feel during the day, kapha types should avoid napping. Stick to a regular sleeping schedule, and eat your largest meal at lunch to give you the energy you need to get over the mid-day slump.
- Stay warm, and avoid damp environments. Run a dehumidifier in times of high humidity.
- Spice up your life! Kaphas are creatures of habit and can easily become disengaged, stagnant and resistant to change. Sign up for a special interest class, explore new neighbourhoods, break your daily patterns as much as you can.
- Exercise every day, even if that means your “day off” is a walk around the block. Try to vary your activities (biking, running, hitting the gym, rock climbing, kayaking). Kaphas tend to want to do the same activities every day, but then find themselves bored and give up. Stay fresh.
- Keep to a regular sleep schedule, and consider it a priority, but avoid over-sleeping and giving in to the lulls in your day. If you feel yourself getting sleepy, incorporate some stretches, go for a short walk (or sprint!), and eat something light and spicy.
Kapha types tend to fall into a deeper imbalance in the wet, sloppy winter months. Daylight is at a minimum, outdoor activities are limited, and everyone feels more sluggish and sleepy. In these months, stay warm and dry and find winter activities to keep you engaged and moving.
I have accumulated a lot of this information from various sources over the years, and also from my own training in yoga philosophy. If you are interested in further reading, one source that I find particularly informative is Ayurvedic Healing by David Frawley.