How to Kapha

Four weeks ago (during the busiest week of the semester) my favorite person and I decided to plan a wedding. Two weeks ago we tied the knot, and now we’re both trying to get on a summer writing schedule. Since the weather has been hot-cold, and the last two weeks have been a blur of over-sleeping, hiking, gardening, moving, and de-cluttering as my new Kapha husband and I try to combine our houses, I thought I’d write about the Kapha dosha and dealing with Kapha season (late winter-spring) today.

To illustrate, I welcome back Copernicus. 

reclined copernicusHe’s a mix of Golden Retriever and something else, possibly Great Pyrenees, maybe yellow Lab. He loves being with us, especially if we’re sitting on the couch or taking a walk, but he even gets enthusiastic about joining for a run–for a few minutes. Then he waddles the rest of the way. His two favorite things are swimming and eating.

He’s a good representative for the Kapha dosha, a mix of the elements of air and water, with a solid, abundantly furry body.  Kaphas are abundant in most things–water, body mass (they tend to have solid, strong bodies but can become overweight when imbalanced), hair, mucus, and love. Kaphas love well–other people, food, things, security– and sometimes they love everything, to the point of jealousy and hoarding if imbalanced. However, in balance they are reliable, nurturing, strong, and capable of great endurance–once they get off the couch. (Take the dosha quiz here).

Kapha season, which tends to be cool and wet, is known for its mud and pollen. Whether or not you’re a Kapha, this season will affect you too. Our bodies have different needs at different times of year, and the earth provides different foods to help us manage these changes.  Most of the crops available now are dark, leafy green vegetables. Most of us have also probably tackled some spring cleaning and gardening lately. It isn’t a coincidence that vegetables that “spring clean” our bodies show up the same times we start spring cleaning everything else. Now is a great time to eat salads and raw food (something Ayurveda doesn’t usually recommend because cooked foods digest more easily), and now is also a great time to de-clutter, to donate clothes and dust all the nooks and crannies of your living space. Now is also a great time to exercise, and vigorously, especially if you’re a Kapha who tends towards lethargy. Running, biking, kickboxing, Vinyasa or Ashtanga yoga, and walking are all great exercise options for Kaphas.

Ayurveda also believes our daily schedules have a dosha, and Kapha time is 6:00-10:00 a.m., and 6:00-10:00 p.m. Ayurveda practicioners stress the importance of getting out of bed before Kapha time starts, because if you wake up during Kapha time, you’ll be heavy and lethargic. That was certainly true for me this week, as I often slept in until 8 or 9 and then couldn’t move and didn’t care (until later when I was panicking over work to finish). However, if you’re up before Kapha time, and can start your work, you’ll have the benefit of the calm, muscular endurance of Kapha to get your hardest work done (it’s also cooler in the morning, a benefit to those who work out in the morning and those who do manual labor, like farming, construction, and gardening). In the evening Kapha time, notice that you might start to feel tired around 9:00 or 10:00. Go to bed then–just .

Here’s some tips for Kapha season:

  • Get up before or with the sun (6:00 a.m.). Make up for sleep by going to bed before 10:00 p.m. (yikes, still working on it). Go easy on naps.
  • Eat a small breakfast and evening meal. Have your biggest meal at noon.
  • Get some vigorous exercise every day. Walking and yoga are good for all the doshas; gardening and yardwork are also great options this time of year.
  • Avoid sugary, fatty foods, salty foods and go easy on dairy, meat, and grains. Opt for vegetables (raw or lightly steamed), astringent fruits like apples, pears, cranberries, and pomegranates, and legumes.  Feel free to add plenty of pungent spices (pepper, ginger, galic, cumin, etc) to your food.
  • Work on de-cluttering your life by giving away or selling things you no longer need or use. This is a great time of year to clear some space.

Whether or not you consider yourself a Kapha, I hope some of these tips make the rest of your spring season a healthy and dynamic one. If you are a Kapha, know that you are in a group of some of my favorite people and the world is better because of you.

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