Tending Home Base: 6 Ways to Balance Kapha
In Ayurveda, the late winter to spring is seen as the time of year governed by kapha dosha. During this season, if we live in climates in the northern hemisphere, we will often experience more rainfall, snow, and colder temperatures.
Similarly, there is a general cold (sheeta) and wet (drava) feel to the gunas (qualities) of kapha.
During kapha season, balanced versions of this dosha can manifest in glittery snowfall, cleansing rain, fertile soil, and a general nourishment of the natural environment. In our bodies, this is mirrored by robust immunity and a general strengthening of agni, the digestive fire.
When there is an imbalance of kapha dosha, we may experience snow that becomes sludgy, excessive rainfall, erosion of soil, and mudslides. In our bodies, imbalanced kapha can show up as an accumulation of toxins, sluggish digestion, weight gain, lack of appetite, weak immunity, a heavy mood, and an overall feeling of malaise in mind and body.
Understanding kapha and the way that it works can help us to flourish throughout this time.
The Stomach: Kapha’s Home Base
In Ayurveda, each dosha has a home within a particular part of the digestive tract. This is where it goes about its daily duties and initiates essential functions in the body.
As the first dosha to interact with the food that we eat, kapha provides salivation to begin the important enzymatic process of breaking down food. It then offers additional digestive liquids while the muscles of the stomach help to transform the food into a more readily assimilable form.
Along with digestive fluids, kapha dosha is necessary for all bodily processes that require mucosal fluids. The mucosal layers of our bodies are protective barriers that build our immunity and protect us from pathogens, bacterias, and viruses.
Balanced Kapha in the Stomach
When kapha in the stomach is healthy and strong, it helps us to break down the food that provides the body with essential nutrients.
Imbalanced Kapha in the Stomach
When kapha becomes imbalanced because of food choices, lifestyle habits, stress, environmental factors, or age, it can create an imbalance in the stomach that causes a chain reaction throughout the body.
6 Ways to Balance Kapha and Tend to Its Home Base
Here are some of my favorite ways to balance kapha dosha and maintain optimal health during kapha season!
1. Activate Your Appetite
Chewing on a thinly sliced piece of ginger before meals is one of the best ways to stimulate agni and wake up kapha when digestion is sluggish.
Trikatu is a warming digestive formulation of three pungent herbs—black pepper, ginger, and pippali—and a great way to enliven a sleepy digestive system. Add one teaspoon to warm water about 60 minutes before a meal to awaken your appetite.
2. Wake Up with the Sun
Kapha rules the time of day from approximately 6–10 a.m. It is a good idea to wake up before this time to help support the body’s natural rhythm.
This is especially helpful for those with a kapha imbalance because waking up after 6 a.m. (during the kapha window of time) makes us less likely to wake up feeling refreshed.
3. Support Clear Breathing
Kapha has a strong connection to the lungs and the mucous membranes of the sinuses. Here are a few ways to care for these areas and support easeful breathing:
- After waking up in the morning, enjoy a facial steam and then rinse with a neti pot to clear any built up gunk from your sinuses. Boil a pot of water on the stove, add aromatic herbs like eucalyptus, rosemary, or ginger, and breathe in the steam. Follow with a neti pot.
- Using Nasya Oil is a great way to protect the mucous barriers of the sinuses and support clear breathing during kapha season. Simply apply the oil to the insides of the nostrils if this is a newer practice for you.
- Apply Breathe Free Balm to your chest before going to bed. This will help to keep the kapha region of the body warm so you are less susceptible to imbalance.
4. Remove Excess Kapha with Touch
Massage and Ayurvedic body therapies are incredibly beneficial for reducing kapha dosha. Whether you have a practitioner who offers body therapies or you prefer to practice self-care at home, now is the time for extra physical touch.
5. Break a Sweat
Kapha relies on the waste product of sweat to detoxify the body. If we are not creating enough sweat, it is possible that the body’s natural detoxification process needs support.
Using a sauna in the cold months is a fantastic way to warm up kapha, break a sweat, and stimulate circulation and metabolism. If you do not have access to a sauna, breaking a sweat with cardio exercise will have the same effect.
It is very important for kapha to keep moving, even when it feels heavy, to help prevent further imbalance.
6. Eat Warm and Light
Following a kapha-balancing diet is one of the most effective ways to find balance.