According to Ayurveda, Kapha types make great friends! They are loyal, loving and awesome listeners who cultivate and keep relationships with ease. That’s because Kapha’s main strengths are staying power and earthy connectedness. Kapha balancing can help to bolster these while combatting Kapha’s weakness – congestion and stasis.
All that earth/water energy can bring heaviness and damp into the respiratory area as mucous. It can also lead to too much lazing around on the couch, feeling down and unable to find the motivation to get moving. To boot ourselves into action and clarify the lungs, sinus and nasal passages, many of the tools in our Yoga repertoire are excellent – in fact they were designed for this!
The seven steps of Hatha Yoga begin with cleansing kriyas – this is an important first step to clear the passages and energetic pathways to make way for the prana that will help replace stasis with a fresh charge of vital energy. Next, postures, pranayama and mantra that detoxify, warm, energize and uplift will decrease an excess of holding and allow Kapha’s many qualities to shine.
The Kapha Body Type
Kapha dosha is the alchemy of earth and water. The Kapha body type is heavier and more curvatious than the lean Vata and muscular Pitta. Kapha’s also have skin that is soft and smooth, very balanced features and large lustrous eyes and eyelashes.
They tend toward illnesses like clogging of the arteries and sinus and respiratory issues. But, with attention to food, movement and breathing practices, Kapha can be the healthiest and happiest of all constitutions.
The most challenging time of the year for Kapha types is late winter/early spring. The winter thaw leads to cold, damp air that exacerbates the sinus and lung congestion this type battles in any case. Spring also brings pollen and for those who are allergic, it’s a double whammy. Late winter is also the time we’re heaviest. The more sedentary pace of winter, when we’re most likely to be cozied up inside cocooning, leads to a sluggish feeling by late winter. Add in the comfort foods we eat at this time, like squash and potatoes, and most of us will have put on more weight.
This makes early spring a perfect time to engage in a Kapha-pacifying cleanse. Spring greens are nature’s way of providing us with the perfect opportunity to slough out the phlegm from the digestive system and get back to lighter more clarifying fare.
Ayurvedic Diet for Pacifying Kapha
Foods that are Kapha in nature are pale, sticky, slimy and heavy or dense, like rice, banana, oatmeal. These are the foods that are meant for Vata, so steer clear Kapha types! What Kapha needs are foods that are heating, clarifying, light and easy to digest. Kapha balancing tastes are pungent, bitter and astringent. Think bitter and astringent greens, peppery foods, and food with a good amount of fiber.
Kapha Balancing Foods
- Bitter melon (kerala)
- Black beans
- Mustard seed
Yoga for Pacifying Kapha
Ayurveda is not only about what we eat, but about using our other balancing tools optimally – all aspects of Yoga can be fine-tuned to help bring you back to balance very quickly and with all the derivative wellness benefits of movement, breath work, sounding and meditation combined. And, posture and breathing techniques are actually naturally most beneficial for booting out excess phlegm and the sedentary feeling of too much Kapha. Bring on the Prana! Contrary to popular belief, it does not have to take long – in 20 minutes a day, you can be really bringing Ayurveda wisdom into your life and feeling great if you know which techniques to choose to get the most out of the time you’ve dedicated to yourself. Truly it’s not really just for you either – your family, friends and colleagues will really notice how much more motivated and uplifted you are. Let’s get too it – Yoga to help fire up Kapha Dosha.
Cleansing for Pacifying Kapha
The simplest of these that is becoming fairly mainstream is Jal Neti – clearing the nasal pasasges by pouring warm salt water through one nostril at a time using a Neti pot. But for those of you who have already been doing this for a while and want to take it deeper, you can try clearing both nostrils at the same time and without a pot through Jal Kapalabhati. This practice takes the cleansing even deeper and uses subtle vacuum of the airs. With guidance, try this. Inhale first and then take a mouthful of your warm salty water. Bend the torso no more than 45 degrees and tuck the chin over a sink. Shift the water to the back of your mouth with your tongue and exhale steadily. With practice, you’ll be able to siphon the saline out through the nostrils into the sink. Then exhale several times through the nose to clear the rest of the water droplets. Finally, lubricate the nose with olive oil or lavender and a carrier oil.
Postures for Pacifying Kapha
Twisting breathing either with an alternate nostril exhale or the thymus thump is excellent for getting into movement in a simple way and in the area of the chest! If you want something a bit more gentle, start with Coat sleaves. This could be part of an opening standing sequence: Sun breaths, Half moon and then twisting breathing. Follow this up with the Sun salutation and you will have worked in every direction of the spine. To close a short sequence, Fish or Bow really open the chest, stimulate the sympathetic nervous system and uplift and inspire.
Breathing for Pacifying Kapha
Breathing is one of the easiest ways to clarify and clear Kapha as Prana is dry and light as opposed to heavy and damp. Start with Kapalabhati to expel stale air from the base of the lungs and then move to Nadi Shodhana or Bhastrika, an even inhale and exhale in the area of the ribcage. During asana, Ujjayi is warming and adds to the clarifying effect.
Mantra for Pacifying Kapha
Chanting aloud is warming, just like pranayama, as it involves a mastery of the breath. Chanting Vedic mantras, especially solar mantras like Gayatri, with a more quick pace are wonderful for releasing stagnant energy and importing vitality. That said, Kapha can also benefit from the more uplifting melodies and beats of Kirtan. Mantras that connected to archetypes with a more stern, disciplinary feel, like Om Namah Shivaya, are perfect for more relaxed Kapha types.
Meditation for Pacifying Kapha
Since Kapha already tends towards stillness, walking meditation or meditation with continuous chanting are quite beneficial. Like Vatas, the Kapha types benefit from something tactile and active to focus on like the use of mala beads. In the case of Kapha, this is to stop them from relaxing so much they fall asleep!
Though they may be very good at devotional meditations on a preferred icon, Kapha should try to stretch their attention that’s usually focussed in on family and community to something very expansive. Try a meditation on the pure blue sky or on space extending in every direction to infinity!
Yoga for Kapha on Akhanda Yoga Online
Need some inspiration? Join us for pacifying Kapha on Akhanda Yoga Online! Enter your email to receive a free toolkit of videos are all focussed around clarifying the damp of the water/earth type and season. The toolkit includes cooking clips, cleansing, pranayama and a full Yoga class, just like this one!
Pranify – Yoga for Pacifying Kapha
Clarify your respiratory system and boost your prana with this energizing class for pacifying Kapha Dosha. In this class you’ll practice a variety of pranayama techniques, such as Kapalabhati, Jaya Breathing, and Bhastrika. High lunges with twisting and opening the side body are great for increasing strength and booting out phlegm.
Let’s get moving together!