4 Ways to Access Kapha's Gifts of Strength and Resiliency This Spring
With the arrival of spring, there is an increase of the earth and water elements in the world around us. The ground is damp, there may be more moisture or rain in the air, streams start to flow again, and new life begins to peak through the soil. This is the season of kapha dosha.
Kapha represents resilience, immunity, compassion, generosity, stability, endurance, patience, and forgiveness. If you think about what it takes for a tiny seed to take root, sprout, and grow into sustenance each spring, you may notice how many of these qualities come through—such as endurance, resiliency, and patience.
Just like every living being, we all have kapha within us, which means we all have the potential to access these sustaining aspects of ourselves. When kapha is thriving, these qualities have the opportunity to shine through us.
The resilience made possible by the earth and water qualities of kapha within us gives rise to many other benefits. Resilient kapha may show up as strong immunity, healthy libido, and a foundational sense of robust health.
Have you ever noticed how good it feels when you can let things roll off your shoulders and be truly present with what matters most? That is kapha.
Healthy kapha also reveals itself in innate generosity, the endurance to commit to an ongoing project, the gravitation toward authentic or meaningful relationships, and a natural desire to care for yourself and others.
During the spring season, these gifts are more readily available to all of us. When kapha is untended, however, especially during the cool and damp weather of spring, it can increase within us and bog us down.
In such cases, we experience the change in season more like a mudslide—dampening the possibility for new life—rather than a steady stream. We may feel heavy, lethargic, easily attached, less confident, or unmotivated.
In these moments, kapha is telling us that it is needing more care and attention. When we don’t tend to kapha’s need for momentum, lightness, and warmth, the flow of energy in our subtle channels can become stagnant and blocked.
When kapha’s needs are met, our healthy kapha qualities thrive. Becoming aware of these needs requires being in deep relationship with ourselves—learning to listen to our bodies and respond with care.
4 Ways to Tend to Kapha in the Spring
Resiliency, immunity, stamina, strength, generosity. These are qualities we would all welcome a little more of in our lives. Here are four ways that Ayurveda can help us harness the energy of the season and experience kapha’s many gifts.
1. Gather Momentum with Daily Exercise
When tending to kapha in the spring, it is important to get moving. This keeps things flowing and energized, helping to counter the excessive heaviness that results when kapha is elevated.
The deepest resilience arises when kapha is energized and engaged through movement. We can enhance our relationship to this dosha by dialing in a daily movement practice—ideally a kapha-balancing exercise with a little cardio boost.
Kapha is also the dosha of endurance and methodology, so when we create a daily routine that incorporates being active, we gather the momentum and consistency needed to keep the practice up.
This could mean taking a brisk walk every morning while listening to a podcast, biking to work, having a dance party before dinner, jumping on a trampoline, engaging in an activating yoga practice, or anything else that gets you going!
Build momentum by noticing how much more energized you feel after your movement practice. The thing about kapha is that it moves slowly, which means getting started isn’t always easy. Weaving your movement practice into your morning routine will help gather momentum for the day before the mind starts to come up with reasons to put it off.
Another way to increase accountability for keeping kapha energized and engaged is to ask a friend to join you for your morning walk, exercise class, or movement practice. Kapha is motivated by relationship and will be more likely to stay activated with another person involved.
2. Stay Light with Dry Brushing
Because kapha is inherently heavy, another way to prevent stagnation of kapha dosha in the spring is to practice dry brushing. This classical kapha-stimulating therapy is believed to increase energy, enhance circulation, and bring heat to the body by creating friction. Not to mention it’s amazing for removing dull, dry skin after a long winter.
When kapha is stagnant, we often feel cold in the body, cloudy in the mind, and heavy in our emotions. Dry brushing helps keep kapha light and bright in order to counter any stagnation that has built up.
How to Dry Brush
- Begin with your feet and hands. Brush the tops and bottoms with short and rapid strokes that move blood toward your heart.
- Next, move to your legs and arms. Apply long brush strokes toward the heart to stimulate lymphatic flow.
- Use circular strokes on the ankles, knees, and hip joints, as well as the wrists, elbows and shoulders.
- Next, move to the trunk. Practice clockwise circles on your abdomen to support proper digestion.
- Reach around and brush the skin of your back as best you can.
This is an invigorating practice to encourage lymph flow, stimulate detoxification, and gently exfoliate dead skin. It is best to practice dry brushing in the morning (before abhyanga) to ignite your metabolism and wake up your organs. Always practice on an empty stomach.
3. Get Warm with Spices
In addition to moving the body with exercise, we can also stimulate kapha by incorporating the quality of warmth, as kapha is inherently cold. We can do this with things like hot yoga, dry sauna, spicy foods, or ginger tea.
Ayurveda recommends a kapha-balancing diet to nourish the body with foods that are light, warm, and very well-spiced—especially vibrantly colored vegetables and leafy greens. Foods that have a pungent (spicy), bitter, or astringent taste tend to also have a lighter quality that prevents kapha from getting bogged down.
Consider adding spices like turmeric, ginger, pippali, cumin, or cinnamon to every meal in the spring. Prioritize eating vegetables that are in season and those that give a little hit of the bitter taste.
Without the light quality of the pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes that come from well-spiced vegetables and greens, imbalanced kapha can result in a heavy dampness in the body and mind. Instead of feeling a healthy sense of stability, we start to feel an overt heaviness that leads to low energy and low motivation.
Enjoying a kapha-balancing diet in the spring also means avoiding kapha-increasing foods like dairy, gluten, and sweets because we’re already getting an increase in kapha from the season around us.
4. Attune to Kapha with Acts of Self-Care
When kapha is tended to, it will offer so many gifts. To be attuned to kapha dosha during kapha season is to offer extra care to the parts of ourselves that feel stagnant by incorporating more light, warming, and energizing foods and lifestyle practices.
To care for kapha dosha is to be in reciprocity—giving our bodies daily attention and receiving strength, resilience, and immunity in return. These acts of self-care will leave us with a reservoir of energy and generosity to channel into our lives and out into the world.
This spring, consider the following offerings to kapha:
- Enjoy a warm, kapha-balancing soup
- Sip on hot ginger tea or Detox Digest tea
- Eat some cooked greens with cumin and lemon juice
- Practice dry brushing regularly
- Take a brisk morning walk
- Get a daily burst of cardio
- Try an activating yoga practice
- Get quality sleep and wake by 6 a.m.
As we offer our attention to kapha in these ways, we will find that kapha offers generous gifts in return. In addition to increasing our resilience and immunity, we feel more centered, more secure in ourselves, more open-hearted, and more comfortable with our boundaries—just like earth and water.
Balanced kapha brings abundance and revitalization of our most enduring qualities.
When we act with intention to tend to our doshas, we set ourselves up to receive exactly what is available to us with each passing season. In the spring, we may begin to crave more time out in the world, wanting to move and connect, to activate on both a physical and mental level.
Cultivating resilience is about growing our capacity to exist within a changing world. It gives us a little extra padding to all the chaos and helps us understand our boundaries. These are the gifts of kapha season presenting themselves to you, offering an opportunity for deep inner renewal.