More on Kapha SeasonFebruary 7, 2014
“Solid as a rock, cool as a glimmering stream in the white moonlight; such is the essence of Kapha. Kapha is the archetypal Mother Earth.”
If you live anywhere in the world where it’s late winter, then this information will apply to you. And if you’re one of my friends around the globe where fall is in the air then I invite you to read my article “Transitioning into Fall/Vata Season”.
Here in the Northeastern US where I live, the transition from Vata Season to Kapha Season has begun. You can feel the sudden change from dry (Vata) to damp (Kapha) the minute you step outside. Wet snow and sleet are coming down outside my window as I write. The season usually begins mid-February and runs until May, when the weather becomes warm and dry.
In either case, Ayurveda believes that the transition between seasons is perilous in terms of our health, and we need to be particularly vigilant as our body adjusts to the changing climate. I say a hearty good riddance to Vata Season! It’s been a very challenging time for me this year.
If you’re new to Ayurveda, I’ll mention that the three doshas (Vata, Pitta, Kapha) are biological forces or energies that are formed by the five elements (air, space, fire, water and earth) and exist in everything on our planet. Each dosha consists of two elements, one which is dominant. Vata is ruled by air and ether, Pitta by fire and water, and Kapha by water and earth.
Each of us is comprised of all three doshas, but in varying degrees. One or two doshas generally dominate our mind/body constitution. The doshas are in a constant state of flux, just like our health is.
More on Kapha Season
Today I am focusing on Kapha dosha as we transition into Kapha Season.
In the Hindu tradition, Airavata is the white multi-headed god of elephants who rose up out of the water when the gods created the ocean. He carries the god Indra, who is lord of the heavens. Kapha is the dosha associated with Airavata, and water is Kapha’s primary element. Earth is secondary.
Just as our mind and body are ruled by the doshas, Ayurveda divides the calendar year and the times of day according to the influence of the doshas.
Kapha Season: Late Winter/Spring
Pitta Season: Late Spring/Summer
Vata Season: Fall/Early Winter
Vata times of day: 2-6 a.m.& p.m.
Kapha times of day: 6-10 a.m. & p.m.
Pitta times of day: 10 a.m.–2 p.m. and 10 p.m.–2 a.m.
There is even a cycle for the doshas during our lifetime.
Kapha time of life: Childhood – birth to age 18
Pitta time of life: 18–age 50
Vata time of life: 50 and beyond
The more we begin to pay attention to the influence of the particular dosha which dominates the day, season, or time of life, the more successful we become at achieving balance.
In the eastern system of the chakras, Kapha is associated with the first chakra (muladhara/root–element of earth) located at the base of the spine/genital region, and the second chakra (swadhisthana/sacral–element of water) located below the navel where the reproductive organs are located.
It’s no surprise, therefore, that Kapha is Mother Earth personified – sturdy, grounded, solid and reliable. And Kapha’s association with the 2nd chakra/water element accounts for the strong sexuality and sensuality which Kapha types embody.
Qualities of Kapha dosha are cool, smooth, oily, soft, slow, steady, dense, heavy. Its tastes are sweet, salty and sour so the tastes that help to balance Kapha are bitter, astringent and pungent.
Kapha is our body mass, structure and fluids, and makes up our muscles, fat and bone. It is seated mainly in the chest, but also in the throat, sinuses, nose, head, mouth, stomach, joints, cytoplasm, plasma, and especially in secretions of the body like mucus.
The mucus of Kapha protects precious tissue in the body but as it accumulates it needs to be expelled or it will lead to disease. Only 10% of diseases are caused by Kapha imbalances (60% by Vata, 30% by Pitta), but stagnation and/or accumulation of mucus in the body is often the culprit.
This is the reason so many of us have colds and stomach bugs at this time of year. Eating a heavy, fat, Vata-pacifying diet throughout the fall and winter can lead to sluggish digestion and result in mucus buildup in the stomach, especially for Kapha types. Often when Kapha season arrives, Kapha people will find themselves needing to vomit. In fact, a treatment in Ayurveda’s panchakarma for Kapha imbalances is known as vamana–therapeutic vomiting.
Lungs and sinuses also become congested and the lymphatic system can become sluggish. Kapha season is a time for cleansing and eating more detoxifying foods. Beets, bitter greens, apples, pomegranates, millet, buckwheat, aduki beans, ghee and most spices are all good choices for Kapha dosha. A more complete list can be found below under Helpful Resources.
Because childhood is the Kapha time of life, it’s the reason children have so many upper respiratory illnesses and are forever producing mucus!
Physical traits of Kapha
- Large in stature, with sturdy bones
- Cool, moist skin
- Large strong teeth
- Strong sense of taste and smell
- Eyes are usually large, warm and almost liquid in appearance
- Thick, shiny hair
- Strong clear nails
- Steady appetite
- Deep sleeper
- Strong stamina
Traits of a balanced Kapha
- Warm and compassionate
- Nurturing (Gives the best hugs!)
- Loving, loyal and kind
- Excellent partners and parents
- Strong, sturdy and steady
Traits of an out-of-balance Kapha
- Attached to material world (potential for hoarding) and to others
- Possessive and greedy
- Lethargic (too much of the earth element
- Weight gain /water retention (too much of the water element)
- Unforgiving and stuck in the past. Kaphas have memories like elephants!
- Unable or unwilling to change
- Health problems such as diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure
- Buildup of mucus (spring colds and allergies are common)
What Kapha-types need to do to stay balanced and healthy
- Exercise daily
- Get up and get moving before 6:00 a.m. and don’t take afternoon naps. Sleeping during Kapha times of day (6-10) result in sluggishness and a Kapha-type will lack motivation for the rest of the day. Because the water element is so strong in Kapha types, they need to keep moving or they will stagnate like an obstructed river. With water and earth as the elements, kaphas can feel like they’re ‘stuck in the mud’.
- De-clutter to lighten their load, physically, mentally and emotionally
- Sip hot herbal/spiced teas instead of drinking too much water. Avoid cold beverages and foods altogether.
- Reduce foods that are cold, heavy and oily. Stay away from sweet, sour and salty and instead add foods that are light, dry, warm, pungent, bitter and astringent
- Reduce mucus-producing foods such as dairy, wheat and oats
- Avoid heavy meats and fried foods
- Keep warm and dry, especially during cold, damp Kapha season
- Follow this Kapha-pacifying daily routine: Up before 6:00 a.m., light breakfast at 8:00 a.m., meditation and morning workout. Healthy lunch (biggest meal of the day) 12:30-1:00 p.m. and a light supper at 6:00 p.m. Bedtime between 10-11 p.m. Kaphas don’t need as much sleep as the other doshas (they tend to sleep too much), but a regular bedtime and restorative sleep is beneficial.
- Kaphas can fast easier than the other doshas and it will help jumpstart their sluggish metabolism. They should definitely avoid eating past 6:00 p.m., 7:00 at the latest. This will give them a mini fast each evening. The word breakfast means just that–break fast.
- Add spices to food to spark digestion. Be careful with salt intake and avoid table salt altogether.
- Raw honey is a good sweetener to reduce Kapha. Buy local raw honey during Kapha season as it can help with springtime allergies. Just don’t overindulge, which is also a Kapha trait.
Kapha types make excellent teachers, healers, chefs, or any profession where nurturing is involved. They are physically hard workers because of their incredible stamina. I doubt that there’s a person reading this article who doesn’t know and love a Kapha-type.
If you have a Kapha in your life and want to support them during this difficult season, encourage them to move (Vatas are good at this!), and motivate, fire them up, and help them organize and clear the clutter from their mental, emotional, and physical world (Pittas are good at this!). It’s the perfect way to show your love for a Kapha and they will return that love with the best warm hug you’ve ever had!
Discover Your Ayurvedic Constitution
- “Ayurveda–A Life of Balance: The Complete Guide to Ayurvedic Nutrition & Body Types With Recipes” By Maya TiwariHelpful Resources:
- Kapha-pacifying Diet (Amrita Veda Ayurveda)
- Honey and Spice Throat Coat Recipe from Joyful Belly Ayurveda