An Introduction to Kapha Dosha
by Eva Dusch
Is your temperament mainly expressed in love and compassion? Are you a team player who gets along with everyone? It’s very possible you are of the Kapha type, one of the three primary constitutions (or body types) in the Ayurvedic system. (We all want you as our best friend. But seriously).
Kapha? If this doesn’t sound familiar to you, perhaps it would be best to first read our article on the three doshas of Ayurveda. It gives a short introduction to the Ayurvedic doshas and the five elements. Otherwise, hop on the Ayurvedic wellness wagon - perhaps you will understand a bit more about yourself and the people around you.
The qualities of Kapha
According to Ayurveda, Kapha Dosha is linked to the elements of earth and water. It’s literally like mud, holding the body together by moistening the structures of the tissues and skin.. Its main qualities are heavy, slow, cold, oily, dense, soft, and static.
Kapha aids growth and development; without Kapha Dosha there is no building structure and lubrication. Both Pitta and Vata Dosha need to be held and carried, and Kapha is the solid container holding it all together, giving stability and protection.
Kapha people usually have large, well-developed bodies, and good shoulders. Their chests are expanded and broad and they have good muscle development. Sometimes they are overweight, but not always. It’s this innate heaviness that makes them less likely to move. Sports? “Nah, maybe tomorrow or next week.”
Kapha types usually have a fair and bright complexion. Their skin is oily and lustrous, though cold and pale. Their hair is thick, dark, soft, and wavy. Their eyes are dense and black or blue with bushy eyebrows and long, thick lashes.
The metabolism of Kapha individuals is slow or sluggish. This is why they sometimes take their time in the bathroom. Kapha people don’t suffer from skipping meals or eating less and can actually benefit from less food intake, though they would prefer not to as eating is one of their favourite things and often makes them feel (emotionally) comfortable.
Kapha people have regular appetites. They usually crave pungent, bitter, and astringent foods such as steamed, green, leafy vegetables with garlic and ginger or a spicy black bean stew. Of all three doshas, Ayurvedic texts say Kaphas can handle coffee the best, as it can help stimulate energy as well as aid digestion.
Akin to mother earth, Kaphas are patient, grounded, stable, caring, calm, forgiving, and loving. There’s no bigger supporter than a good Kapha person next to you - you can always rely on them in your time of need. They are team players, very reliable, and very compassionate and affectionate. They have good long-term memories and are very good listeners as well. Just like beautiful, calm, and slow elephants, they have those big ears that listen very carefully.
When out of balance, a Kapha person can be very greedy, possessive, and attached to material things. Letting go is often very hard for them, whether it comes down to things, people, emotions, or memories. If someone is hugging you for ‘too long’, they probably have some Kapha qualities. Too much Kapha energy may also be the reason you sometimes get stuck in a rut and aren’t sure how to move past it.
Though they have the best stamina and largest energy reserves of all the doshas, it often takes some time and effort to get Kaphas up and running. They can be hard-working people, but also have the tendency to be lazy and might squeeze in a little nap.
Kapha season and (life) cycles
Ayurveda focuses a great deal on the “dosha cycles”, which means that during different parts of the day, the qualities of the different doshas are present. The period from sunrise to mid-morning is called the ‘Kapha time’, as we tend to feel slower in this first part of the day. Same goes for the early evening from sunset on, when we tend to slow down, soften, and get ready for bed.
Late winter and early spring are known as “Kapha Season”. During this time of year, heaviness and cold sensations dominate, and we tend to feel a bit more sluggish and depressed.
Kapha also dominates in our childhood, and we all know how soft, loving and cuddly children can be. These are Kapha qualities
How to handle a Kapha imbalance?
Increased Kapha Dosha can manifest in different ways, depending on the person. You can feel (mentally and physically) heavy, lazy, unmotivated, or depressed, and there’s often an excessive desire to sleep. Kapha types often carry a few extra pounds, struggle with diabetes, and can experience food cravings, especially when there’s emotional discomfort. They may be prone to sinus and respiratory problems.
As Kapha is slow, cold, static, and heavy, it is best balanced with its opposites: movement and activity which create heat and lightness. So practice Ashtanga yoga, metabolic exercise, visit the sauna, schedule a deep massage with drying powders, drink hot water and spicy teas, and keep your dinners light. Cut back on foods that are high in fat (oil), dairy, red meats, and heavy sweet vegetables. Avoid ice cream.
For those feeling extra Kapha mentally: try to let go of more in life, declutter regularly, do things you’ve never done before, embrace change, and engage in fun activities that spark your creativity and joy.
This blog was written by a student in our Ayurveda Practitioner Studies degree programme. If you are interested in becoming an Ayurveda Practitioner or want to deepen your professional knowledge, skills, and experience in the field of Ayurveda - see our website here.
It’s when we look beyond the gross outer layers of life that we find our way to the more subtle layers that can shift your whole being and perspective on life. That’s how it felt when Eva encountered the path of Ayurveda. After years of practising yoga and meditation, it was the cherry on the cake. The foundation she was looking for, that connects everything. No matter where you go. After working for years as a writer and freelance journalist, she took a big break in 2016 to travel the world. She went to all corners of the planet, living in New Zealand and South America for a while. As unstable and challenging the circumstances sometimes were, it was through yoga and Ayurveda that she found stability, balance, and inner peace. Something she brought back home with her when she returned to Amsterdam in the spring of 2019. That same year, she started her journey with the Delight Academy to deepen her knowledge, skills, and experience in the field of Ayurveda. Her motivation to become an Ayurvedic Practitioner is to help people reconnect with their bodies and inner knowing again. Encouraging them to take their health into their own hands, using nutrition, awareness, and balance as tools. She believes in conscious, healthy, and joyful living inspired by the beauty and depth of Ayurvedic wisdom and holistic philosophies. Photo credit: Kiki Reijners