Kapha Dosha is predominated by the earth and water elements and governs structure and cohesiveness. It is responsible for mucus, tissue, and fat in the body. It gives the body its solidity and density. The word Kapha means “that which sticks”.
Kapha attributes are heavy, slow, cool, oily, smooth, dense, soft, stable, gross, steady and cloudy.
The elephant is representative of the Kapha-type individual because of their slow, steady, loving nature. Kapha people love family and they have long-term memories like elephants.
Water is Kapha’s primary element. Earth is secondary. It’s no surprise that someone with a lot of Kapha in their constitution will often complain of feeling “stuck in the mud”, especially during Kapha Season (late winter/early spring).
In the eastern system of the chakras, Kapha is associated with the first chakra (muladhara/root–element of earth) located at the base of the spine/genital region, and the second chakra (swadhisthana/sacral–element of water) located below the navel where the reproductive organs are located.
Kapha is Mother Earth personified – sturdy, grounded, solid and reliable. And Kapha’s association with the 2nd chakra/water element accounts for the strong sexuality and sensuality which Kapha types embody.
Predominant tastes are sweet, salty and sour so the tastes that help to balance Kapha are bitter, astringent and pungent.
Kapha is our body mass, structure, and fluids, and makes up our muscles, fat, and bone. It is seated mainly in the chest, but also in the throat, sinuses, nose, head, mouth, stomach, joints, cytoplasm, plasma, and especially in secretions of the body-like mucus.
The mucus of Kapha protects precious tissue in the body but as it accumulates it needs to be expelled or it will lead to disease. Roughly 10% of diseases are caused by Kapha imbalances (60% by Vata, 30% by Pitta), but stagnation and/or accumulation of mucus in the body is often the culprit.
This is the reason so many of us have colds and stomach bugs during Kapha Season. Eating a heavy, fat, Vata-pacifying diet throughout the fall and early winter can lead to sluggish digestion and result in mucus buildup in the stomach, especially for Kapha types.
Lungs and sinuses also become congested and the lymphatic system can become sluggish. Kapha season is a time for cleansing and eating more detoxifying foods. Beets, bitter greens, apples, pomegranates, millet, buckwheat, aduki beans, ghee, and most spices are all good choices for eliminating excess Kapha.
Because childhood is the Kapha time of life (birth to age 18), it’s the reason children have so many upper respiratory illnesses and seem to be forever producing mucus!
When reading the lists below, keep in mind that we all have the three doshas in us, but most of us are dual doshas. Therefore, some of us will relate to these traits a lot, some a bit, and some, almost none at all.
Physical traits of Kapha Dosha types:
- Large in stature, with sturdy bones
- Cool, moist skin
- Large strong teeth
- Strong sense of taste and smell
- Eyes are usually large, warm and almost liquid in appearance
- Thick, shiny hair
- Strong clear nails
- Steady appetite
- Deep sleeper
- Strong stamina
Traits of a balanced Kapha-type:
- Warm and compassionate
- Nurturing (Gives the best hugs!)
- Loving, loyal and kind
- Excellent partners and parents
- Strong, sturdy and steady
Traits of an out-of-balance Kapha-type:
- Attached to the material world (potential for hoarding) and to others
- Possessive and greedy
- Lethargic (too much of the earth element)
- Weight gain/water retention (too much of the water element)
- Unforgiving and stuck in the past. Kaphas have memories like elephants!
- Unable or unwilling to change
- Health problems such as diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure
- A buildup of mucus (spring colds and allergies are common)
What Kapha-types need to do to stay balanced and healthy:
- Exercise daily (especially in the early morning)
- Get up and get moving before 6:00 a.m. (two hours before sunrise is optimal) and don’t take afternoon naps. Sleeping during Kapha times of day (6-10) results in sluggishness and a Kapha-type will lack motivation for the rest of the day. Because the water element is so strong in Kapha types, they need to keep moving or they will stagnate like an obstructed river
- De-clutter to lighten their load, physically, mentally and emotionally
- Sip hot herbal/spiced teas instead of drinking too much water. Avoid cold beverages altogether
- Reduce foods that are cold, heavy and oily. Stay away from sweet, sour and salty and instead add foods that are light, dry, warm, pungent, bitter and astringent
- Reduce mucus-producing foods such as dairy, wheat, and oats
- Avoid heavy meats and fried foods
- Keep warm and dry, especially during cold, damp Kapha season
- Follow this Kapha-pacifying daily routine: Up before 6:00 a.m. (or, ideally, up to two hours before sunrise), meditation and morning workout, light breakfast at 8:00 a.m. Healthy lunch (biggest meal of the day) 12:30-1:00 p.m. and a light supper at 5:00-6:00 p.m. Bedtime between 10-11 p.m. Kaphas don’t need as much sleep as the other doshas (they tend to sleep too much), but a regular bedtime and restorative sleep is beneficial
- Kaphas can fast easier than the other doshas and it will help jumpstart their sluggish metabolism. They should definitely avoid eating past 6:00 p.m., 7:00 at the latest. This will give them a mini fast each evening. The word breakfast means just that–breakfast
- Add spices to food to spark digestion. Be careful with salt intake and avoid table salt altogether
- Raw honey is a good sweetener to reduce Kapha. Buy local raw honey during Kapha season as it can help with springtime allergies. Just don’t overindulge, which is also a Kapha trait
Kapha types make excellent teachers, healers, chefs, or any profession where nurturing is involved. They are physically hard workers because of their incredible stamina. I doubt that there’s a person reading this article who doesn’t know and love a Kapha-type.
If you have a Kapha in your life and want to support them, encourage them to move (Vatas are good at this!), and motivate, fire them up, and help them organize and clear the clutter from their mental, emotional, and physical world (Pittas are good at this!). Share this article with them because it’s likely they won’t choose to read it on their own!
These are all perfect ways to show your love for a Kapha and they will return that love with the best warm hug you’ve ever had!
The daily mantra of a Kapha-type person should be get moving!