KAPHA is the biological water humor, also translated as phlegm. It means ‘that which holds things together.’ Kapha dosha provides substance and gives support, and makes up the bulk of our bodily tissues. It also provides our emotional support in life, and relates to postive emotional traits like love, compassion, modesty, patience and forgiveness. Dr. David Frawley
I recently discovered that there is a meterological date for the first day of spring (March 1st) and an astronomical date as well (March 20th). Whichever date we choose, it’s time to follow along with nature and begin waking from our winter slumber. I wrote about this in an article titled Listening to Our Bodies–The Ayurvedic Way when I realized that I had been sleeping this winter like never before!
Ayurveda divides the year into three, not four seasons. Vata season is fall and early winter, Kapha season is late winter and spring, and Pitta season is late spring and summer. So we are now officially in Kapha season and beginning our winter thaw. The earth is wet (Kapha’s main element is water and is contained in the element of earth) and Mother Nature is beginning to awaken everything that lies dormant. I’ve already seen crocuses peeking out from the ground and it reminds me that I need to do the same. I need to shake off my sleepy winter habits and rejoin civilization. It has been lovely hibernating all winter, but now it’s time to cleanse my body, mind and soul and begin to think about rebirth and transformation, like the plants and animals instinctively do every year. It’s no coincidence that spring is the time of year when we traditionally clean house.
Ayurveda can seem complex, but if you take your clues from nature, the simplicity behind its principles becomes evident. For thousands of years, people living an Ayurvedic lifestyle ate local and seasonal food because that was all that was available. As man became more advanced, food began traveling thousands of miles and we became used to eating every kind of food all year long. Unfortunately, food that travels these distances lose nutrients quickly and our bodies are taking in foods that are contrary to what nature intended for us. For example, watermelon is a cooling food, meant to help cool down our internal temperature in a hot climate. It is not meant to be eaten during the winter months when we need to keep warm, inside and out.
A common complaint we all have is the extra pounds we seem to put on over the winter. I always need to remind myself that it’s normal (and necessary) to store fat in our bodies during the cold season to keep us warm. We also need it to counteract the dryness that comes with winter. But when Kapha season begins and moisture abounds, we need less fat. Nature recognizes this and supplies us with an abundance of bitter and astringent herbs, fruits and vegetables to counteract the excess moisture and help cleanse and detoxify the body. Sprouts, bitter greens and asparagus are just a few examples of nature’s own detoxifiers.
Kapha constitutions generally suffer from congestion-type ailments because of an excess of phlegm. Because like increases like in Ayurveda, they often come down with colds, lung ailments or sinus infections in the spring. It’s a good idea for all of us to reduce any mucus-producing foods like dairy during this season. Sugar is also a particularly troublesome food for Kaphas and should be avoided. Local, raw honey is a good substitute. It is believed that eating local raw honey before allergy season begins may lessen the severity of symptoms. Click here for some more holistic approaches to allergy relief.
Spring is the time for all of us to get up and get moving, but especially Kapha types. Left to their own devices they can become lethargic, depressed and withdrawn. Of the three doshas, Kapha needs the most exercise on a daily basis. Remember, Kapha is water and earth. Too much of a sedentary lifestyle can leave Kaphas feeling “stuck in the mud.”
Although we all have Kapha in us (bones, bodily tissues, loving emotions, etc.), if our predominant dosha is Vata or Pitta, we need to follow a diet and lifestyle that is geared more to that dosha. For example, someone who is Vata does not do well eating a lot of raw vegetables, no matter the season, and they will still need more fat in their diet year-round than the other doshas. And someone who is very Pitta will generally need foods to cool them down all year round. If you are unsure of your dosha, take this simple quiz.
It’s all about balance and the more you learn about Ayurveda, the easier it will become to ascertain what will best help you achieve optimal health and happiness. I have listed some references below to help guide you.
Having a Kapha in your life is something to treasure. They are loyal, steadfast, loving and kind. I should know – my partner, Ralph, was a Kapha. The perfect companion for a Vata, and vice-versa. He grounded me, I kept him moving. All winter long I’ve been thanking him for leaving behind some of his Kapha energy, which I attribute to my newfound love of sleep.
Kapha’s should incorporate lots of spices into their food, especially during Kapha season.
Mung Dal Kitchari (Kapha)
1 cup yellow split mung dal
1 cup basmati rice
3 tablespoons ghee (Ghee is clarified butter and can be found in the grocery store on the shelf. It needs no refrigeration and is very good for you!)
4 bay leaves
4 small pieces cinnamon bark
4 whole cloves
4 whole cardamom pods
6 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt
Wash the mung dal and rice twice. Soak the dal for a few hours, if you have time.
Heat a saucepan on medium and add the ghee. When it is hot, put in the bay leaves, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom and stir until the spices are mixed and fragrant.
Mix in the rice, dal, salt and water. Cook at a low boil, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Cover and cook on low heat until the dal and rice are soft, about 25-30 minutes.
Within all of us is the archetype of the Divine healer. This Divine healer is the true healer in all beings, not any particular individual or special personality. To heal ourselves we must set this Divine healer in motion within ourselves. Dr. David Frawley
Here are some excellent resources to help you find the Divine healer in yourself!
Perfect Health: The Complete Mind Body Guide by Deepak Chopra (a good choice for beginners!)
Ayurvedic Healing by Dr. David Frawley
The 3–Season Diet–Eat the Way Nature Intended by John Douillard
Absolute Beauty: Radiant Skin and Inner Harmony Through the Ancient Secrets of Ayurveda by Pratima Raichur