This is the fourth post in a series about dosha and constitution. You may want to read first about vata dosha, pitta dosha or discovering your constitution.

Kapha Dosha is the relationship between water and earth elements.

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Kapha expresses through the gunas slow and heavy.  Dull, cold, slippery, stabile and sticky also characterize kapha dosha. As with both pitta and vata, these qualities may find expression on every level of manifestation.

Healthy Kapha

Kapha builds and supports all of the tissues and structures of the body. It lubricates and cushions joints and produces the mucosal linings of the digestive tract and sinuses. Kapha in the mind cements our experiences and ideas into memories and understanding. When kapha behaves well, it grants us stamina and resilience, helping us to weather the challenges of life without falling apart.

A healthy kapha-predominant person moves slowly and smoothly through life. They are dependable and caring and don’t tire or give up easily. Though they have a “thick skin” and can be difficult to read, they can be quite sensitive and tender. Their sensitivity extends very naturally to those around them. Generally they are broad-minded, trusting, trustworthy and loyal. Their word is a promise that they won’t soon forget.

What does a kapha-predominant person look like?

kaphaiconsmallTypically she will have a larger build with thick bones. Her body may be slightly “apple”-shaped with a broad chest and more weight carried around the middle. Her muscles are covered with a thick layer of insulating flesh and her joints are large but well-wrapped and protected. Her thick, shiny hair grows slowly and frames her round or square face and thick, dark lashes surround her wide, round eyes. Her smooth, creamy skin rarely breaks out. Thick, moist lips cover square, white teeth.

Her comforting hugs communicate a patient and understanding nature. She tends to have a few deep, long-lasting friendships and is a loyal and usually monogamous partner. She moves slowly and regularly, but inertia can sometimes get the best of her.

Kapha agni and digestion are slow and steady. Her hunger never feels urgent. Her sex drive is steady as well, but she is fertile with a very regular menstrual cycle.

Imbalanced Kapha

Kapha home in the body is the stomach. When kapha first starts to accumulate, it often appears as nausea. The warmth and new growth of spring-time can provoke nausea, vomiting or sinus problems.

What does excess kapha look like?

As kapha continues to over-accumulate, it starts to show signs in the lungs and the skin. Itching sensations, congestion and asthma all result from an excess of kapha. As kapha enters the channels of the mind, it can produce depression and despondency, but the hidden nature of kapha may conceal these deeply held emotions from the eyes of others. A feeling of “numbing out” might even obscure her understanding of herself.

This dullness and masking manifests as health problems marked by excess. Congestive problems, diabetes, edema, obesity and cataracts all express the wrapping, layering and accumulating qualities of kapha.

Our friend with excess kapha speaks too slowly and without enthusiasm. Her skin looks pale and thick and her muscles lack tone. She is depressed, secretive and nearly overcome with inertia. Even though she sleeps too much, every action conveys exhaustion.

Her sex drive has all but disappeared. Her menses may be very delayed; when her period arrives, the blood will be thick and clotted.

The sticky quality of kapha attaches our friend very deeply to people and separation causes her a lot of grief. She has a hard time letting go of emotions or ideas and may feel very stuck when change becomes necessary.

What to do?

The experience of kapha is primarily wet, cold and heavy. It is important to increase the gunas of dry, warm and light.

Movement is the name of the game.

Kapha individuals and those with excess kapha need to stimulate and move the heaviness that settles over them. Their tendency towards inertia can compound the heaviness.

This is why exercise is the best medicine for kapha dosha.

Exercise helps them to clear the fog out of their channels, strengthen their agni and connect with their sensations. From this place openness and connectedness, they can meet their life with intention and awake-ness.

Waking early, before the sun has risen above the horizon and dry-brushing before bathing, tonifies kapha in the body and burns away excess kapha in the mind channels.

What to eat?

Dry, warm, bitter and light foods will be most easily and quickly digested.

Generally the kapha appetite is slow and regular. Many kapha people will find it a great relief to eat only 2 main meals a day (usually the first one around 10 or 11am and the second around 5 or 6 pm). In fact, kaphas are the only people for whom regular fasting is recommended. Some will find that one day of fasting or of extremely light eating per week (or twice per month) provides great support to good health. Everyone benefits from eating their last meal before sunset, but this habit serves kaphas most profoundly.

The very best food medicine for kapha is raw honey.

Unheated honey scrapes the excess kapha from the channels of the body and carries herb medicines to the lungs (one of the main sites of kapha in the body). Bitter green vegetables and astringent fruits like pomegranate, apple and cranberry are well-tolerated. Buckwheat and corn warm and dry kapha’s slow, wet and heavy digestive system and spices like dry ginger, turmeric and black pepper are essential for keeping things moving.

It is best to avoid heavy, damp foods like most dairy products, heavy meats and wheat. Less obviously kapha-provoking foods are sour, like tomatoes, citrus fruit and fermented foods. All of these foods bog down kapha’s sometimes murky system and can contribute to nausea, dullness, congestion and stagnation.

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This post is also available in: French