We are currently in kapha season, according to our understanding of Ayurveda. In this ancient tradition, each year consists of three seasons (not just the four you likely grew up learning about). The three dosha cycles of Ayurveda correspond to the three life forces or energies—vata, pitta, and kapha.
Kapha season, which encompasses mid-winter through spring, tends to be the rainiest time of year. It’s no coincidence that ‘kapha’ in Sanskrit means “that which flourishes in water”. Kapha qualities can be found in the natural world and within our bodies, so it is key to keep kapha in balance through self-care and specific lifestyle choices.
Qualities of kapha found in the natural world
In Ayurveda, known as “the science of life” in Sanskrit, each of the three doshas correspond to different combinations of the five basic elements found in the universe: earth, space, air, water, and fire. Kapha is associated with the qualities and attributes of the elements of earth and water:
Cold, wet, steady, smooth, heavy, dense, and slow
How fitting that springtime is kapha season, which is most closely associated with wet, rainy weather. It also corresponds to the time of year when snow melts and hydrates the soil.
EARTH + WATER = MUD
Mud often has negative connotations, though we all know that few components of life are all good or all bad. One never wants to be a ‘stick in the mud’. On the other hand, mud has the ability to hold things together, and has traditionally been used to provide the structure and sturdiness necessary to build houses throughout human history. After all, ‘kapha’ is alternatively translated from Sanskrit as “that which binds things”.
And yes, mud can cause messes, slow-downs, and delays, but we must never forget that the beautiful lotus flower can only thrive in mud. No mud, no lotus.
Just as the earth spins on its axis, creating the seasons we experience throughout the year, our bodies also go through changes in relation to the seasons.
Kapha qualities within the body
In the ayurvedic tradition, the three doshas also relate to three primary bodily constitutions. Everyone inherits a unique mix of vata, pitta, and kapha doshas, but we usually have one that is dominant. Take this quiz to discover your dosha!
Kapha-dominant types tend to have a strong, sturdy, thick build (or thicc 😊). They are known for being dependable, patient, compassionate, grounded, and relaxed team players, who are often described as good huggers and make the best friends.
When in balance within the body, kapha aids development and growth by being responsible for maintaining moisture, bodily structure, mucus production, and sleep regulation.
Balancing practices during kapha season
In the realm of Ayurveda, like attracts like.
When a kapha-dominant person is eating a heavy kapha diet while staying home and avoiding exercise during kapha season (winter-spring), an excess of kapha can accumulate within the body. This imbalance causes feelings of congestion, constipation, lethargy, and brain fog, leading the kapha type to feel stuck in a rut.
According to Change Your Schedule, Change Your Life, Dr. Suhas Kshirsager encourages embracing change in your daily routine can help dissipate feelings of heaviness, fatigue, and general un-wellness as we move from winter to spring.
Awareness of when your dosha is out of balance can allow you to make necessary lifestyle changes based on how you feel day to day and season to season. In order to bring kapha back to equilibrium and get you feeling your best, you should incorporate practices that are the opposite of kapha tendencies:
- Switch up your routine
- Shake up your diet
- Get moving and be active
It is important to note that there is no “good” or “bad” dosha type. There are only balanced and imbalanced doshas. Your Ayurvedic lifestyle can be customized to your own personal makeup.
Balance kapha through daily routine
We all know that no matter your dosha, keeping a consistent wake-up time, mealtimes, exercise, and bedtime can bring radical change in the body, mind, and consciousness by keeping you grounded. In order to find a schedule or routine that works for you during each season, it is key to listen to your body and observe the effects of any changes.
It can sometimes feel like an uphill battle to put into action the seemingly simple tasks we know will make us feel better. Habits can be tough to kick. In The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg shares studies by cognitive psychologists which indicate that from 40 to 95 percent of human behavior is habit-driven.
So remember to celebrate the ‘small wins’ of daily decisions you make that spur the creation of good habits.
What to eat to balance kapha
An elevated kapha dosha can be balanced by stimulating agni, the digestive fire. In order to reduce the accumulation of kapha in the body, it is recommended to:
- Eat a diet of warm, light, dry, well-spiced foods that are pungent and bitter (kapha-pacifying).
- Incorporate spices like black pepper, ginger, cumin, and mustard.
- Avoid sweet, salty, or oily foods in order to reduce sluggishness (kapha-aggravating).
- Be sure to eat plenty of vegetables, beans, and lentils to reduce water retention.
- Drink hot herbal teas with cinnamon or ginger to stimulate digestion.
The above will assist with regulating moisture and mucus within the body. It is important to note though that being satisfied by and actually enjoying your meals is key to your overall well-being, so be sure to experiment with what works for you. It is simply good practice to pause and observe how you feel after meals. You can also follow these ayurvedic-specific tips on better digestion.
Balance kapha with your yoga practice
The intention of a kapha-based yoga practice is groundedness. According to Teaching Yoga Beyond the Poses, Sage Rountree recommends Goddess pose, Garland pose, and other similar squatting poses that challenge the lower body with long holds.
For many of us during the early mornings and evenings of the colder months, nothing sounds better than cuddling up in bed or on the couch with a blanket. But getting out of the house to exercise first thing will help shake off the kapha sluggishness. In particular, when kapha predominates the atmosphere, from sunrise to mid-morning (6 to 10am), and evening (6 to 10pm), it is the perfect time for a vigorous power hot yoga class.
If you’re looking to switch up your routine, our 6am power yoga classes are just what you need to make the transition from winter to spring during this kapha season.
Root down and get grounded like the lotus flower.