Kapha’s elemental makeup consists of water and earth. The common translation of kapha is “that which binds things” or “that which holds things together.” According to ayurveda, this is the dosha responsible for the stability, lubrication, substance, and support of our physical body.
Kapha supports our emotional calm, our mental and physical endurance, and it allows us to feel deeply, to empathize, and to be patient and compassionate.
Qualities or Attributes of Kapha Dosha
- Soft or hard (Think of mud—it can be sticky or soft and slimy or hard.)
- Steady or static
- Gross (as opposed to subtle)
Characteristics of Kapha Dosha
When kapha within us is in balance, according to our constitution, or prakruti, we feel a sense of support in bodily function. The dense, stable, conserving qualities of kapha support our body heat and protect our organs. There is a firm quality to our joints, which are well-lubricated and support the bones, and there is internal support from mucous membranes and GI lining, as well as the myelin sheath for proper brain function.
Ayurveda says that contentment is one of the benefits that balanced kapha brings to our lives.
Kapha’s ability to love and forgive supports relationships with compassion and patience.
Actions of Kapha Dosha in the Body and Mind
- Fat regulation
- Strength and stamina
- Stability in body and mind
- Support for bodily functions
- Nourishment of the the liquid body tissues; plasma
- Anabolic changes
- Lubrication; mucous
- Nourishment in general
- Repair and regeneration
- Quality of saliva (ability to perceive taste)
- Sense of smell
Characteristics of Kapha Dominance in Appearance
- Large eyes; especially the white (sclera) of the eye
- Eye color is dark and rich in tone; chocolate brown, deep blue
- Abundance of body hair and/or low hairline
- Lush, thick, sometimes curly quality to hair
- Round features
- Smooth, dense skin (oily)
- Solid frame; may be stocky or large and strong
- Deep-set joints
- Pale tongue
- Large, well-formed teeth
Examples of Kapha Dosha in Excess or in an Imbalanced State
- Slow or dull digestion
- Stagnation; inertia
- Excess saliva
- Excess mucous
- Attachment issues
- Clammy skin
- Wet cough
- Skin tags
- Edema (water retention)
- Excessive napping; difficulty waking
- Foggy mind
- Lack of appetite
- Difficulty breathing
- Feeling heavy or sleepy after eating
- Difficulty initiating (slow starter)
Dietary Tips to Support Kapha Balance
Foods that are great for balancing of kapha in general are pungent, bitter, and astringent in taste. Ayurveda considers these tastes to be the medicine for warming, drying, and stimulating digestion for kapha. Generally, all six tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent) are recommended for healthy digestion!
Foods That Help to Balance Kapha
Foods to avoid or consume only moderately if your constitution is predominantly kapha:
Foods that increase kapha are, in general, sweet, sour, and salty in taste. These tastes, if in excess for the kapha in your prakruti (constitution), can create heavy, sluggish, and wet digestion. According to ayurveda, this will cause digestive hardship for kapha and an eventual range of imbalances.
Examples of Foods That Can Aggravate Kapha
Lifestyle Tips for Balancing Kapha
Yoga for Balancing Kapha
- Three-part breath
- Bhastrika (bellow’s breath)
- Kapalabhati (skull-shining breath)
- Nadi shodhana (alternate nostril breathing)
Are You Kapha?
Take our dosha quiz here.
Kathryn Templeton has devoted her life to the health of others. A psychotherapist for more than 30 years, she continues to work both clinically and as an educator specializing in the treatment of individuals with complex trauma, anxiety, depression and now ASD. As C-IAYT Yoga Therapist, E‐500 RYT ParaYoga teacher, and NAMA registered Ayurvedic Practitioner, Kathryn has worked to develop specialized treatments integrating the principles of yoga and Ayurveda with clinical therapeutic... Read more>>