Ayurveda Routines To Balance Kapha
Ayurveda is an amazing health system that has been around for thousands of years and works with nature and the natural rhythms of life, rather than against it. It offers a personalised way of living in line with what naturally helps you to feel your best and live and long and healthy life. As you likely know, Ayurveda's 3 main doshas (or mind-body types) - Vata, Pitta, and Kapha - are made up of all three in varying proportions. Depending on which are most present and your health goals you might focus on balancing one of these more than the others.
In the last two solo podcast episodes and blogs, I spoke about Balancing Ayurveda Routines for Vata and Pitta. You can find out which mind-body type you could focus on balancing, using natural methods, with my Anxiety Profile Quiz - where you will receive personalised recommendations to support anxiety and your overall well-being - take the quiz here.
In this episode, we are moving on and looking at Ayurveda Routines to balance Kapha. Balancing Kapha may be of interest to you if you are wanting to feel lighter and brighter.
Summary of Kapha Dosha
When in balance Kapha’s feel and help others to feel calm and nourished, they are ideal people to be around if you are struggling with anxiety. They tend to be very warm, loyal and homely, they will be supportive and helpful and once they begin something will steadily complete it to the end, they tend to have much more patience than pittas and vatas! Kapha’s can however more easily get stuck in a rut and feel slow, heavy, and sluggish.
Kapha dosha is made up of 50% earth and 50% water elements. On a physical level, water relates to all the fluids and liquids in our body e.g. blood plasma. The earth element relates to the structure and mass of the body and promotes strength and stability - for example our bones - without them, we would be a heap of skin and insides on the floor! When we have too much earth and water mixed together it can get rather sludgy, heavy and sticky - sometimes we can feel like this in our minds and we, therefore, need lighter qualities to help balance it out!
What can throw Kapha out of Balance?
Firstly, let's understand which qualities (or gunas) might throw Kapha out of balance in our body and minds. Using the ayurveda principles of ‘like increases like’, the gunas will increase Kapha dosha are; heavy, cold, oily, slow/dull, smooth/slimy, static and soft.
Firstly, when there are excess heavy qualities, this can show up as sluggishness, slow metabolism, overweight and weak digestion. Things that increase the heavy guna are heavy foods such as pastry, puddings, bread, pasta and pies. Also overeating - particularly late at night, sleeping for long hours, a lack of movement through a primarily sedentary lifestyle, and heavy emotions, such as depression, hopelessness, and greed can increase heaviness too.
Secondly, when there is too much of the cold quality, this might show up as coughs, colds and congestion (many chest-related problems linked to Kapha), numbness, cold hands and feet, fear, and a contraction in the body and mind rather than a sense of expansion. This can be caused by too many cold foods and drinks such as ice cream, frozen food, and raw fruit and vegetables, along with excessive cooling spices and herbs when cooking such as mint. Wintertime here in the UK is naturally cold and if you work in a cold environment this can also be aggravating. When we look at cold emotions, we may experience the inability to forgive and let go or be in denial.
Thirdly, oily or greasy qualities can throw Kapha out of balance, this may show up as oily skin, obesity and/or high cholesterol for example. The oily quality can be increased by an excess of deep-fried or fatty foods, cheese, yogurt and cream, nuts, olives, avocado, and coconut. However, I want to point out that we need some healthy fats in our nutrition otherwise we may be too dry.
An excess of slow/dull qualities can lead to depression, also being slow to take action - maybe you plan to go on a trip or start a new hobby but it’s never more than an idea without taking the action. Someone may have monotonous and/or slow speech, poor circulation, slow or sluggish digestion and metabolisms, and a slow or dull mind. This may be caused by a lack of exercise, a slow and monotonous job, spending long hours in darkened rooms without natural sunlight, overcast and cloudy weather, and rich foods. This sounds like winter here in the UK if we aren’t careful!!
When there is too much of the sticky quality, someone may be less open-minded and stick to one particular viewpoint, they can hold on and hoard things (I think I need another clear out haha), there can be poor blood flow and growths may appear such as fibroids. The sticky guna can be increased by items such as toffee, chewing gum, melted cheese and chocolate, dairy and sugar. Over-attachment to people and things can also be a contributing factor.
Another quality that can aggravate Kapha is static. Someone might be stuck and static in their thoughts, emotions, and behaviour, there may be a stiffness to their body, and a rigidity to their mind. It can also show up in water retention, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. The static quality is increased by too much meat, cheese, and bread. Also eating too much in one meal and once again leading a sedentary lifestyle! Do you need to get moving more? If so, how can you get moving for at least 5 minutes?
The soft quality may be seen as poor muscle tone, excess mucus, fatigue, being too laid back, and having a lack of emotional boundaries - I’ve not heard it for a long time but it’s sometimes said that someone is soft or too soft, highlighting a potential lack of boundaries. Someone might feel hurt quite easily, and I do believe that sensitivity is a superpower but when someone feels over-sensitive this can affect their well-being. This soft quality can be increased by over-caring and over-kindness (again this is where boundaries are so important), too much relaxation, and resting on soft surfaces such as a very soft mattress or water bed. When it comes to food, soft mushy foods such as bananas, mashed potatoes with butter, risotto rice, jam, and generally overcooked mushy foods can be aggravating.
As I mentioned, like increases like - therefore utilising opposite qualities can help to have a balancing effect. Therefore these routine suggestions help to promote warmth that helps to balance the cold, and movement, and being mobile helps to balance being slow and sticky, subtle qualities and lightness help with heaviness, and rough helps with soft and oily qualities!
So how can you implement more of these qualities practically into your lifestyle? Let’s have a look at some simple natural solutions that would begin to make a difference to how someone with a Kapha imbalance feels in their body and mind.
A balancing Kapha Routine
A kapha routine could look like this:
Rise ideally by 6 am, especially as the mornings get lighter. This means you are up before the heavier Kapha time sets in from 6-10 am, when we may start to feel sluggish again if we don’t get up and move!
Start the day with a glass of warm water and then hot water with ginger, lemon, and honey (or lime if you have high inflammation) this is cleansing for the body and mind and lovely and warming
Dry brushing before a warm shower or a shower scrub can bring in rough qualities and boost circulation.
If you have time in the morning go for a short brisk walk or try some rounds of yoga sun salutations to get the body moving and the metabolism going and help you to feel more expansive and uplifted, or take 10-15 minutes to do this as a break later in the day.
Try and move regularly throughout the day and enjoy perhaps a team sport or class in the evening, even better if it’s in nature! Movement is key to feeling lighter and unstuck!
Meals - add warming spices and herbs such as cinnamon, cumin, and cardamon to your cooking but be careful not to go too spicy with chilli and lots of dry ginger if you have some pitta imbalances, such as inflammation. Warming spices will help to warm you from the inside out and boost circulation and metabolism further.
As you enter the evening, you could wind down from the day with a more active relaxation/meditation practice, such as chanting
Enjoy any chest and heart-opening poses such as a puppy pose and a banana pose to feel more expansive and less stuck and support the kapha chest area.
This is by no means a set routine, and some of these ideas may or may not resonate with you, when you work with a coach such as an anxiety relief coach like myself, I would look at your primary anxiety goals and overall health picture and together we would create a bespoke plan of natural solutions to transform how you feel so that you can enjoy life so much more. I love seeing and hearing about the changes in people!
What can you take from this post? Is there someone you think would benefit from hearing this? - feel free to share it. I’d love for you to share your key take-aways with me - I’m always on the other side of a message, follow me on Instagram.
Listen to Episode 75, Ayurveda Routines to Balance Kapha over on The Beautifully Balanced Podcast.