Kapha Dosha

Kapha body-mind types will usually be of a bigger build or were a big child or teenager.  You may have been viewed as overweight when you were younger and often on some sort of diet.  This is where the kapha dosha needs help to realise that they will always be a bit bigger and there is nothing wrong with that.  Your genetic constitution, or prakruti (or prakriti), in Ayurveda means you fit into what the west calls the Endomorph body type In Ayurveda it is called the Kapha Dosha and this describes what issues or disease a Kapha dosha may be susceptible to. Read on so you can accept your individuality and understand why kapha acts and responds the way they do and understand that something CAN be done to help.

Firstly, I want you to appreciate that just because you are overweight DOES NOT mean you are Kapha dosha.  A vata dosha CAN become overweight if they overeat and choose too many unhealthy, sweet and oily foods and this in turn can feed kapha.  So they would have a Kapha body with a Vata mind and we would need to re-align them for homeostasis to come about.

Where is the kapha energy located in the body and what issues can arise when out of balance?

Kapha is located in your lungs, stomach, pancreas, white matter of your brain, the cerebrospinal fluid, plasma, joints, lymph, sinuses, nose and tongue. Kapha functions are for the lungs, fat metabolism, growth, memory, taste, smell and forgiveness. The blood type of Kapha will mostly be of B type and a Vata-Kapha dual being mainly AB.  Pitta-Kapha will be mainly O Rh positive.   Do you know what your blood type is?  Giving blood can help you identify this, or the next time you have to go for a blood test with your GP, ask him what your blood group is.

Vata Pitta and Kapha

As a predominantly Kapha dosha, your characteristics will show up with you generally being a jovial kind of person but slow moving (unlike Vata).  Your speech may be slow and a little but also deep and compassionate. Some people will generalise Kaphas as ‘lazy’ but they only become lazy when their body and mind are out of balance as lethargy and brain fog sets in.  We can address this in our sessions. However, Kapha by nature will always be the one to take it easy and not understand why others around them are in such a rush or so busy doing too much! Kaphas are loving, maternal figures and tend to look after everyone else around them.  This is a great trait for working in the professions of nursing and care.

However, the Kapha person will also tends to keep their own problems and issues to themselves so not to cause ‘a stir’ and this can then manifest in emotional blockages or blockages in the chakras, leading to further issues. Kapha types tend to have great skin and strong wavy hair and strong nails, which seldom break.  This is indicative of the strength that kapha brings to the body and the world around them.  They will have big round eyes, often blue or green, larger lips, a big tongue, strong teeth and nails and a larger physique all round.  They don’t have lots of muscle but can keep weight in balance by exercise and movement, something Kaphas are not great at when out of balance.

When there is an issue in the Kapha molecules, issues may show up as:

  • Weight Gain and Obesity
  • Over-Eating
  • Over-Sleeping
  • Diabetes-did you know this stems from the liver?
  • Mucous in Stools or lungs
  • High Cholesterol
  • Bronchitis and Coughing or Wheezing
  • Heart Disease
  • Lung Congestion
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of Taste
  • White Coating on the Tongue (a sign of toxicity but more on this later)
  • Lack of Clarity
  • Poor Memory
  • MS as myelin sheath degenerates
  • Swollen Joints
  • Water Retention around Joints?

Goals and Focus

Give a Kapha a good book and they will get stuck in for hours.  They find it easy to sit still, relax on the sofa or in bed. The motivation for Kapha types in life are SECURITY, COMFORT AND STABILITY.  This is the slow, heavy and static attributes that make them who they are. When it comes to work, they make great administrators and can keep a balanced mind when dealing with a mix of personalities or other doshas.  They like to care for people and given their patience, they do well as nurses or care-givers, counsellors, horticulture and gardening and manual jobs that need a long-term vision. 

If a kapha type is stuck on a computer all day and there is boredom involved, they might easily be tempted with the donut or sweets that are doing the rounds.  They also seize up more easily and can experience knee pain and swollen joints or lymph. A kapha would do well to just take a break outdoors and re-ground, which they can do easily when in balance.  Kapha and Kapha-pitta types are good athletes-an example of this is rugby players who are big, yet strong and active.

The Kapha dominant types do not like change so at times will be reluctant to step outside their comfort zone.  So, this in turn affects them when it comes to goals, as Kaphas tend to be procrastinators and can easily put things off until a later date, sometimes months or years.   Some of this is due to lack of confidence in taking on a particular project but also due to resistance to make that change.  However, this is why you will often find that a Kapha body-type will be in the same job for many years, or the same house or town.  This trait also shows up in their wonderful ability to be loyal to friends, co-workers and their employer, unlike Pitta who will not hesitate to take off when things do not suit them.  Everyone is just different.

Eating, Appetite, Bowels and Weight

Kaphas like to go to bed early so would be encouraged to get up early and take advantage of this by incorporating some self-love and care into the start of their day.  The Kapha time of the day is between 6am and 10am and this is when we should all be up and moving so as not to increase kapha in the body. See more on dinacharya later (daily routines).

They would benefit from skipping breakfast (unlike the other doshas) or having a detox room temperature juice.  It would be wise for them to eat their main meal at lunchtime when the digestive system, enzymes and acids are at their best. When it comes to drinking water, around 4 glasses are enough. Kapha holds water (as the elements dominating are earth and water) which can show up in water retention around the joints, especially the ankles.  So do not force yourself to drink 1 or 2 litres of water as advised in western nutrition.  If you are eating vegetables, you will also get your water from this.

Kaphas love the wrong type of foods for their body type.  Symptoms of Kapha digestive problems (Manda Agni) are:

  • Bloating
  • Heaviness
  • Tired after Eating
  • Sluggish Bowels
  • Poor Appetite
  • Weight Gain
  • Excess Saliva
  • Sadness, Crying and feeling Emotional

Other symptoms include:

  • Colds and Congestion
  • Lymphatic Congestion
  • Allergies
  • Weakness
  • Cold, Clammy Skin
  • Greed for food or possessions, or Over-Eating

Kapha gains weight easily and when they do, it tends to be all over. You will usually hear them say “all I have to do is look at a slice of cake and I put weight on” or “why is it that I’m eating healthy but cannot lose weight”? or “that’s okay, I’m on a diet”. This is a sign that Kapha may have been overweight for some time.

Slim is not always fit and fat is not always unhealthy

That said, Kapha body types CAN BE FIT. Just because you are a bit larger does not mean you cannot, move, breath and exercise.  Many great athletes are of the Kapha build and mentality and some research+ shows that overweight people are less likely to die quicker.

(My theory is that the Kapha nurturing nature helps them to live longer because they do not have as much stress and anxiety as their vata and pitta counterparts so relax more.  Stress and anxiety release hormones like adrenaline and cortisol.  As adrenaline can increase heart rate and blood pressure it may make sense that Vata and Pitta types have more of this, which then affects the entire nervous system, endocrine system, liver and bloods).

Kaphas respond well to exercise. If they can keep their motivation, running and aerobics are good for a Kapha mind and for attacking any weight gained. A Pitta-Kapha mix will encourage competition in these activities and they will push themselves a little more.  This is where some pitta-kaphas take up martial arts.

As Kapha is water and earth, they just love the water.  I would encourage swimming and water aerobics as a start for exercise to move kapha blockages. This is then easier on the joints.

Otherwise, just outside walking would be one of the protocols I would suggest to begin to get my Kapha client back on track.

Mental Health and Stress

We all handle stress differently.  If you are ever in a crisis, a Kapha type is the person you want around you.  They have the earth quality so their ability to stay calm and be rational could benefit everyone around them.  Vata will get anxious, Pittas will get irritated but Kapha will get everyone to calm down and have a cup of tea or coffee until it all blows over.  Watch for this the next time your train or plane is delayed or you are in a traffic jam with a kapha beside you and see if you can spot the different dosha types.

Kapha hates conflict and will often not voice their view as they prefer to keep the peace. Kapha types do not rush or take life too seriously.  They do well balancing the over-worked pitta, once pitta learns to relax.  Kapha will take a lunch break and enjoy a lazy sunday without having to catch up on the latest news or gossip.  We could all learn a lot from our Kapha friends by trying this out! Even is kapha is NOT exercising rigorously they would benefit greatly from some sun salutations in the morning to get the digestion and lymph moving a chanting meditation of more vigorous massage. Anything to move and stimulate the kapha body will help to keep the Kapha mind balanced.

Kapha loves cuddles and will give and receive hugs easily.  They may even still have a teddy bear on their bed as adults; something warm, comforting and cuddly.  The issue arises when Kapha’s keep all of their old bears or those of their children. This is where they cannot let go of the past. When it comes to bedtime, they are usually ready for bed early, between 8pm and 10pm (unlike their pitta and vata counter-parts who are still ready to work, think or do).

If they get up early, they do not bounce around the place full of energy.  A kapha living with a vata has to show more patience as the vata is up in a rush, checking their phone, writing lists and planning 100 things to do that day, already zapping their energy.

As Kaphas are normally grounded, giving and nurturing to others this is often done to the detriment of themselves.  They feel guilty and selfish if they are not looking after everyone else but sometimes this can become a give, give, give and Kapha then internalises and feels down or depressed.  They need to be able to surrender themselves to self-care.  Otherwise, the kapha emotions will cause them to overeat and get tangled inside their own heads as they won’t ask for help.

All doshas need some solitude to reflect and reground.   Kapha likes to be around people but when imbalanced, they can often isolate too much for too long and this is not helpful to them.  This is when we see the Kapha depression start to creep in.

Another of the mental health issues with the Kapha types is that they worry about not losing weight to become thinner. Well, I tell you now; give up this negative belief about yourself and your life will be better.  Kapha types are nearly always “on a diet” of some sort but yet you will never see them thin like Vata or muscly like pitta. This is because your cells and your inner intelligence and your genetic constitution or prakruti is not meant to be like this.

Although you are large, you do not have to be obese or massively overweight. Do you remember people like Jesy Nelson from Little Mix having an awful time over her weight?  She lost lots but is not meant to be as thin as her group colleagues.  Or Scarlott Moffet.  Without doing an assessment on these two, I believe they have strong Kapha traits that they can easily address to feel more fulfilled.

Kaphas have great memories.  You will often hear people say to them “how can you remember such detail”? or “that was so long ago, I’d forgotten about it”.  But a kapha will remember so do not try to outwit or lie to a Kapha….

Mental Factors that cause a Kapha mind to become aggravated are grief, loss and repressed emotions.  Kapha’s are good at repressing their emotions. Kapha energetics tend to be within the lungs, stomach, brain and joints.  Imbalances, therefore can show up as:

  • Gaining weight (as already mentioned)
  • Slow digestion leading to straining and then possible constipation
  • Excessive oily skin, oily hair
  • Water retention and bloating
  • Congestion especially in the respiratory system
  • Brain fog and lack of clarity
  • Too much day dreaming or sleeping

If the rajastic state manifests further, Kapha becomes too heavy, static and slow.  This shows up as:

  • Being overly attached (to people and things eg hoarding)
  • Comfort eating and being greedy
  • Jealous
  • Feeling dull, flat or lethargic
  • Lacking motivation and enthusiasm
  • Depression

Pathologies related to excess Kapha

As well as the signs and symptoms outlined before, some other pathologies which show up when Kapha is out of balance are:

  • Degenerative Arthritis
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Edema
  • High cholesterol
  • Gastritis
  • Learning problems
  • MS as myelin sheath degenerates
  • Dementia (this is controlled by Tarpaka Kapha-the brain and cerebrospinal fluid and lubrication)

Causes of Kapha Imbalances

  • Lack of Exercise-Kapha needs to move to keep the body in balance.  Exercise is necessary for Kaphas at a level to suit them.
  • Unforgiveness-If a Kapha has been hurt or grieved they need to address this and learn forgiveness so things do not fester within their loving emotions.  Kaphas can often be in denial for fear of upsetting others or themselves as they like to keep equilibrium.
  • Lack of Identity and boundaries-As kaphas are so kind and gentle in nature, they can spend so much time giving and not being true to what they want or feel.  Kapha would do well to set boundaries so people do not take advantage to their good nature.
  • Emotional Eating and heavy meals.  Bodhaka Kapha, which is the tongue, helps lubricate the tonsils, pharynx and vocal cords.  This helps with the taste of food.  Each taste bud has many cells which send a message about taste to the brain.  Kapha is stimulated by food so can overeat or reach for food to feel happy or when sad. A kapha issue can show up as loss of taste.
  • Cold Foods. So many kapha types come to me and tell me they have been eating so much salad but still feel rubbish and cannot lose weight.  Therein lies part of the issue.  Kapha has a sluggish digestion and cannot always tolerate cold foods which are harder for them to digest.  Warming soups and root vegetables cooked and mixed up with different spices would be more beneficial to them.
  • Excessive Sleep-as we know Kaphas love to sleep the can sleep too much, causing an imbalance in body and mind
  • Winter and Spring-whilst winter is a time for us to slow down, reflect and store fat, Kapha types tend to eat more of the wrong type of foods for their body type and can put on more weight in winter.
  • Over eating sweet, sour and salty food.  This includes honey, eggs, nuts, mango, purple grapes, lemons, lime, processed cheese, sour cream, shop bought yoghurt,  oranges, grapefruit, rice, pasta, table salt on food and soy sauce.  Also too many oats, wheat or milk products.

Kapha in Balance

It is very easy to look at the dosha in terms of being out of balance (your vikruti).  However, when you are in balance, you are aligning with your true identity, characteristics and genetic constitution (your prakruti in sanskrit). When Kapha is in a state of bliss (or Sattva in Sanskrit) then they are in a place of purity, clarity, harmony, and stability in their mind.  This is success from a clinical and dosha balance point of view.  For kapha they will see this when they feel:

  • Calm and happy
  • Reliable and dependable
  • Strong in body and mind
  • Peaceful within themselves
  • Stable and not worried about security
  • Loving and compassionate – not just because they feel they should
  • Nurturing and loyal
  • Supportive with the right balance for their own self-care
‘Balance your Kapha and you can share your love to the world’

Best Ways to Pacify Kapha

I use the following techniques with my clients for the best results to pacify excess Kapha in the body, mind and spirit.  These will be slowly introduced, based on your lifestyle and commitments.

  1. A Kapha pacifying diet – this is a short-term balancing diet to get you back on track and will be explained and shared on your initial consultation with your ayurveda health consultant.  You will be asked to eat freshly cooked whole foods but which need to be light, dry, well spiced to promote digestion and eaten warm or hot and never cold. I will provide a list of foods to avoid or reduce as well as some suggested meals for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Where weight-loss is indicated, we will tailor this accordingly and look at portion control and evening meals to help you avoid snacking-no calorie counting or wicked protein milkshakes.  You may have been doing that most of your life so the time to stop is NOW!
  2. Seasonal Eating-whilst this should apply to everyone, a Kapha will benefit from this knowing which seasons can aggravate them the most.  This is especially true in winter, when Kapha types put on more weight.  I can give you guidance on what to eat during this time to avoid weight gain. 
  3. Self massage (abhyanga) using small amount of warm oil and vigourous strokes to warm and stimulate sluggish Kapha.  Dry body brushing is great to stimulate a stagnant lymphatic system.  This will be advised at your consultation.
  4. Nabhi Abhyanga (massage and treatment of the abdomen).  This helps with the Kapha sluggish digestion and elimination, obesity, IBS, fatigue and high toxins (ama) in the body.  You can do this yourself or book in with a trained Ayurveda Practitioner.
  5. Medicated oils to double the benefits of massage.  Oil I prefer for Kapha is Chandanabalalakshadi Oil (so difficult to pronouce that I refer to it as my Chandana Oil).  This oil is great for bronchitis, mucus, respiratory conditions, losing weight and diabetes (when combined with other lifestyle medicine).
  6. Warming Herbs/Spices for Kapha include ginger, black pepper, turmeric, cinnamon, mustard seeds, cloves, mint, basil and fenugreek seed, which is good for the respiratory system).  These will stimulate your digestion and help to remove toxic wastes.  These also contain the 7 tastes recommended in Ayurveda for better digestion.
  7. Take an Ayurveda Herb** which helps with digestion that has discomfort or inflammation and a detoxifyer and weight loss.  I use Triphala for Kapha issues as it contains three powered fruits which help the GI tract overall.
  8. Also, Tulsi can help with fighting infections and colds.
  9. Kapha tea Mix equal parts of cinnamon, ground ginger and clove into jug or thermos of hot water.  Sip throughout the day.
  10. Limiting consumption of heavy dairy products such as processed cheese and milk mixed with fruit.  Kapha loves hard cheese which can cause them too much mucous!  This can affect their ears, sinuses, lungs and bowels.
  11. Ensuring quality sleep.  Kaphas love to sleep so adequate sleep is not an issue for them. However,  getting up to an alarm at the same time every day would benefit Kapha as well as some sun salutations (or a gentle cycle or swim) to start the day and move the digestion and lymph.  I will give you these as part of your first consultation.
  12. Do not snack late at night,   Kapha’s are big snackers.  This is because food is their usual ‘go-to’ comfort.  If you seem to snack uncontrollably, we will address this seperatley as this can stem from inner emotions or issues from childhood that we can address easily with some rewiring and reframing techniques.
  13. Walking outdoors – Kapha can be energised by a brisk walk outdoors, taking in the sights and sounds of nature.  Otherwise, if you are just starting to exercise, Kapha loves water and anything with a water activity will really life Kapha’s spirits.  This can be swimming or time by the sea or river.  Kapha generally does not like to exercise alone so ask a friend or set a challenge to feel more accountable.
  14. Eat more of the Pungent, bitter and astringent foods such as onions, garlic, mustard, ginger, chilliles, cloves, pepper, green veg, coffee, dark chocolate, dried beans, lentils, unripe bananas, tea and pomegranites.

**A note on herbs: Do not use herbs unless specifically prescribed for you and never buy ayurveda herbs on auction sites as you do not know the full source or contents.  There may be reasons you cannot take herbs so please be advised only by your Ayurveda Practitioner after doing a full consultation.

If you have tried everything and nothing has worked long-term, then try Ayurveda.  It works if you put the effort in and you learn an awful lot about yourself and others in the process.

How I can help

  • I can give you more energy and reduce your fatigue by helping your micronutrients to improve mental clarity and energy levels
  • I will help you understand when or when not to fast or skip meals for Kapha.  This can be crucial for your weight loss and energy
  • If you are overweight, then I will help with a gentle detox and a plan to lose the weight AND keep it off
  • Assist your Kapha cravings for sweet, salty, heavy and oily foods BUT give you snacking alternatives whilst we work on your relationship with food
  • Release childhood trauma or your relationship issues with a parent or sibling or just the negative self-talk that plague a Kapha mind
  • I will help you identify and reduce your procrastination and help you structure a more balanced daily routine to suit your need for relaxation and sleep
  • I will give you advice and tips on how to keep your joints lubricated both internally and at the source of discomfort
  • I can also provide a therapeutic massage that energises Kapha, using Ayurveda medicated oils
  • I will send you a list of seasonal foods each month so that you can tailor your own eating for Kapha, according to the weather and outside elements

READ MORE ON WEIGHT LOSS HERE

Example of Celebrities who may be Kapha types

James Cordon
Oprah Winfrey
Sarah Milligan (with Vata)
Scarlett Moffat (with Vata)
Tom Davis

Can you relate to a lot of what I have described ? Perhaps there are a few variables but sounds like you ?

Would you like to discuss any ongoing health concern that others have not been able to help you with?

Would you like to address your issues without going on a fad diet ?

Ayurveda provides a fantastic combination of delicious foods Do you want to open the door to creating more balance and harmony in your life?

Do you want a better relationship with yourself and your food? 

If you want help to resolve your Kapha imbalances or have a massage tailored to suit and reduce your dosha, then book an appointment with me for your 1st consultation and start to change your life for the better.

Back to Pitta Dosha
Back to Vata Dosha

Telephone: 07903 215524 – Looe OR

+ Research published in 2013 of a review of nearly 100 studies, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Christine Southwell
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