Understanding Your Kapha Dosha

Kaphas are warm of heart and steady of mind. When Kapha builds to excess, however, they can become sluggish and even depressed. Learn the physical and emotional characteristics of this dosha and what you can do to keep it in balance.

What Does Kapha Mean?

Kapha governs the structure of the body. It is the principle that holds the cells together and forms the muscle, fat, bone, and sinew. The primary function of Kapha is protection. With the Kapha type, the earth and water elements meet. Therefore, Kapha unites properties such as heavy, slow, and steady, but also soft, dense, tough, and cold.

In the body, Kapha derives from the elements of Earth and Water and translates as “that which sticks.” Kapha is responsible for solidity and all structures as well as for the right amount of body fluids. The kapha-dosha personality and characteristics will reflect kapha’s earthy qualities—unctuous, cool, heavy, slow, smooth, soft, and stable. It is also dense, cloudy, and viscous.

Qualities of Kapha:

  • Heavy
  • Slow
  • Steady
  • Solid
  • Cold
  • Soft
  • Oily

We all enjoy the lovable nature of Kapha people, and having them close to us can be a real pleasure. Nothing seems to get them out of balance, and they always seem patient and understanding. Kaphas are naturally calm, thoughtful, and loving. They are ideal managers, who calmly handle several issues simultaneously and can also answer other urgent questions while doing so. They retain what they have learned and can remember the minor details.

Excess Kapha in the mind manifests as resistance to change and stubbornness. In the face of stress, the typical Kapha response is, “I don’t want to deal with it.”

Kapha types have a strong build and excellent stamina. Large, soft eyes; smooth, radiant skin; and thick hair are also important Kapha characteristics. Those who are predominantly Kapha sleep soundly and have regular digestion. But when Kapha builds to excess, weight gain, fluid retention, and allergies manifest in the body. When they’re out of balance, Kapha types may become overweight, sleep excessively, and suffer from asthma, diabetes, and depression.

Their ability to hold onto things, pounds, routines, and people, coupled with water retention, makes life difficult for them in many respects. People with an excess of Kapha tend to hold on to things, jobs, and relationships long after they are no longer nourishing or necessary.

Understanding Imbalances in the Kapha Dosha

When kapha is out of balance, in the physical body, there can be weight gain, excess mucous, lethargy and nausea associated in the digestive tract. Stubbornness and attachment may become an issue in the emotional body. Imbalanced kapha skin manifests with excess oiliness, congestion, cystic acne, blackheads & large pores.

If the Kapha type acts on the tendencies toward overeating, avoiding exercise, and excessive sleep for a long time, the Kapha Dosha is derailed and depressions, obesity, litholysis, and Diabetes mellitus may occur.

Excess Kapha in the mind manifests as resistance to change and stubbornness. They can become greedy (the need to accumulate wealth), self-indulgent, needy, and resistant to change (lacks flexibility).

How to Balance Kapha

Since Kapha is inherently cold, heavy, and dense, the key to balancing Kapha is stimulation. Kaphas tend to cling to the status quo and routine, so they need the stimulation of new sights, sounds, and experiences.

Stay warm and avoid dampness. Kaphas are particularly sensitive to cold, damp conditions and benefit from heat.

Favor colors that are warm and bright, including yellow, orange, and red. Learn more about kapha color therapy here.

Create an energetic routine and be mindful to avoid stagnation. Learn more on how to build a routine for your dosha here.

Clear your space. To avoid clutter from accumulating in your home, office, car, and other physical spaces. Creating a minimalistic style can greatly benefit kaphas.

Perform a Kapha oil massage using cooler oils such as coconut or olive. Learn more about the benefits of a Kapha oil massage here.

Perform a vigorous exercise routine that includes jogging, hiking, biking, vigorous forms of cardio, a minimum of five times per week,  to avoid stagnation, and the accumulation of toxins in the body. 

Use warm, stimulating aromas including cloves, camphor, cinnamon, eucalyptus, juniper, and marjoram.

Nutritional Guidelines for Kapha

Foods with pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes are most beneficial for pacifying Kapha. Reduce foods with sweet, sour, and salty tastes. See a full list of Kapha friendly foods here.

Try a liquid fast one day per week, ingesting only fresh vegetable and fruit juices, and pureed vegetable soup.

Reduce the intake of dairy, which tends to increase Kapha. You can use small amounts of ghee, low-fat milk, and low-fat yogurt.

Avoid most sweeteners. Honey is one sweetener that can best pacify Kapha.

Use heating spices like chili, black or cayenne pepper, ginger, cinnamon, and cumin.

Stick to routine times for your meals to avoid snacking and overeating.

See a full list of Kapha friendly foods here.

General guidelines for balancing kapha

  • Enjoy warm foods, both energetically and in temperature.
  • Avoid overeating or eating heavy meals.
  • Stimulate your body and mind on a daily basis.
  • Stay warm and dry, no matter what the weather.
  • Surround yourself ively and invigorating music, smells, experiences, and company.

According to the Ayurveda, we are all ruled by three different energies, or doshas, known as vata, pitta, and kapha. These doshas are governed by the elements, earth, water, air, ether, and fire. We’re all made up of a unique combination of these three forces. If you don’t know which dosha is most predominant for you, the Ayurvedic Body Type quiz is a fun and easy way to find out.