The nature of Kapha is cold, heavy, smooth, moist and dull and therefore herbs, foods, beverages and lifestyle habits used to pacify Kapha should be opposite in nature, i.e. warming, light, rough, dry and sharp.
Foods to Avoid
- Fruits – most fruits are generally avoided because of their excessive water content and cooling nature, with the exception of those listed below
- Vegetables – other than raw vegetables, none are contraindicated for Kapha conditions, with the exception of raw cucumber, avocado and mushrooms.
- Carbohydrates – all refined grains, including cereals, white rice, bread and pasta, but also heavy and moistening grains such as wheat and oats
- Legumes – none
- Nuts and Seeds – all nuts, with the exception of those listed below
- Dairy – all dairy, with the exception of those listed below
- Meat – all meat, with the exception of those listed below
- Oils – all oil, with the exception of those listed below
- Spices – none, with the exception of salt
- Beverages – excessive water, cold water, ice water, rice milk
- Sweeteners – white sugar, molasses, raw sugar, jaggery, maple syrup
Foods to Emphasize
- Fruits – apples, cranberry, pomegranate, grapefruit, lemon, lime, papaya, pineapple
- Vegetables – all vegetables, eaten steamed or baked (but never raw) are good, except those listed above
- Carbohydrates – long grain brown rice, quinoa, amaranth, granola, millet, buckwheat, barley, corn, popped grains
- Legumes – all legumes, with the exception of peanut and lentils
- Nuts and Seeds – flax, sunflower, pumpkin
- Dairy – small amounts of organic goat milk are okay every so often
- Meat – best avoided, but occasionally organic or free-range breast of chicken or turkey
- Oils – best avoided, with the exception of mustard, sunflower, safflower, corn
- Spices – all spices are good, except salt
- Beverages – warm water squeezed with lemon or lime, any herbal tea, green tea, coffee (occasionally)
- Sweeteners – aged unpasteurised honey is helpful to alleviate congestion
As the nature of Kapha is cold, heavy and dull it is important to emphasize patterns that are active, energetic and challenging. In particular, when Kapha is aggravated there is a tendency towards laziness, lethargy, despondency and depression. Active forms of activity, such as aerobics, are strongly encouraged to break up the stagnation of Kapha. Work and pleasure should be stimulating and varied, with much travel and excitement. Home and office space should be a well ventilated, mild in temperature, dry, active, dynamic and Spartan. Exposure to warm sunlight and warm breezes should be encouraged.
Lifestyle habits to avoid
- Inactivity, laziness
- Sleeping more than six hours a night, sleeping until late in the morning
- Exposure to cold and damp
should generally be warming, stimulating and clearing in nature. Balsamic, pungent and musky odors are best for Kapha. Examples include cedar, pine, rosemary, basil, frankincense, myrrh, eucalyptus, cajeput, camphor, ginger and clove.
Colours which have a warming energy such as yellow, orange, gold or red are useful for Kapha, as is brown, grey and black in moderation.
Stimulating and invigorating asanas, mostly standing and moving postures (suryanamaskar, “sun salutation”) but also inverted postures (e.g. shirshasana, “head stand”). Solar pranayama (emphasizing the dominance of the right nostril) is appropriate as is bhastrika (“breath of fire”). Chanting such warming and stimulating mantras such as Aim, Hreem, Hum or Om are all useful.
The goal of meditation to pacify Kapha is to increase and balance the solar qualities of the psyche, such as extroversion, independence and will, with those of the more lunar aspects of introversion, dependence and mutability. Techniques should be chosen for their energetic and active qualities, rather than techniques that involve extended periods of sitting and stillness. The most effective approach is typified by Bhakti and Karma yoga, which encourages active forms of worship and humanitarian service.
Neelam Toprani is an Ayurvedic researcher and the formulator of Sewanti herbal remedies and Padmashri massage oils. Neelam has been studying various healing modalities and eastern spiritualties from many masters. One of the objectives her Company is to take the timeless wisdom of Ayurveda and translate it into practical solutions to improve the quality of life.The company is based in Vancouver, Canada.