Those of you who regularly attend my classes know that Ayurveda informs my teaching quite a lot. Ayurveda is the native science of health and medicine in India, and is a perfect companion to the practice of yoga. In Ayurveda, there are three basic constitutions, called doshas. We each have a unique blend of each of the three doshas, and each dosha is dominant during different times of the year, as well as during different stages of life. Kapha is one of the doshas (the other two being pitta and vata), and in the Northern Hemisphere, kapha is dominant from late winter through spring. Independent of how much kapha we have in our constitution, we will all have the tendency to go out of balance in that dosha during the kapha time of year. Yoga to the rescue! But before we get to that, lets back up a bit.
Kapha is made up of the elements earth and water. Earth is associated with all the structural tissues of the body, like bones, fascia, ligaments, tendons, muscles and skin. Water is associated with all the watery parts of our body, like blood plasma, lymph, saliva, other digestive juices, synovial fluid, sweat, and liquid wastes. Earth and water are the densest of the five elements (the others being fire, air and space), and create the majority of the physical body. Kapha is responsible for the growth of the body, and is the governing dosha during childhood. Just like we see the daffodils and crocuses pressing up through the soil, reaching for the sun, during this time of year, the energy of kapha is inviting us to do the same… mobilize our bodies out of the hibernation of winter, full of strength and stamina. Whatever is happening in nature outside is happening on our insides as well. This is why I love using the framework of Ayurveda to help us understand how we can optimize our practice, nutrition, and daily lifestyle rhythm.
Kapha-dominant folks are steady, loyal and dependable. They are the “rocks” of our community, blessed with great stamina, bucket-loads of compassion and patience, and are natural caretakers. When there’s excess kapha (again, all of us have the potential to go to this place during late winter through spring) there’s too much heaviness, which can look like apathy, lethargy, even depression. There can be a lack of motivation and inspiration, weight-gain and lots of mucus, with upper and lower respiratory congestion (hello allergies) and a feeling of being “stuck in the mud”.
In yoga and Ayurveda, we work with finding balance through the use of “opposites”. If kapha out of balance is too heavy, then we balance this energy with postures, breathing exercises, and mindfulness tools to move energy upward, to warm the body and energize the nervous system:
- Chest and shoulder openers
- Back bends / extension of spine
- Twists to stoke our inner fire / agni
- Victorious breath / Ujjayi pranayama
- Shining Skull or Breath of Fire breath / Kapalbhati or Bhastrika pranayama
- A gaze point (dristhi) that’s slightly higher than eye level
- Listening meditation
For more kapha support join my weekly classes or email me to set up an appointment for a yoga therapy lesson so I can tailor a practice specifically for you. Let’s practice together!
In celebration of the return of the sun,