What is Kapha?
Kapha dosha: composed of the elements earth and water is at its height in the Spring. Kapha is the heaviest and most stable of the doshas. It is associated with our immunity, strength, endurance, bodily structure, moistness, lubrication, and fertility. The qualities of kapha are cool, wet, heavy, slow, slimy, and stable.
Spring: The season on new life and new beginnings
Spring is a very energizing and powerful season where the warmer weather begins to draw us out of our homes and inspires us to cleanse ourselves both inside and out. The term ‘spring cleaning’ is no coincidence. Some ways we naturally begin to lighten our load is by eating lighter foods and feeling lighter hearted and less vulnerable to anxieties of the dark cold winter season, as well as cleaning our closets and homes by giving away unneeded and unused possessions.
Like kapha, spring is a slightly cool, fertile, wet season during which flowers and trees are blooming and many animals are mating or giving birth. Spring can be a time of great energy and mental and physical fortitude. On the other hand, because of its heaviness spring can also be a time of lethargy and stagnation with many people experiencing an over production of mucous due to seasonal allergies.
The heavy, slow and slimy qualities of kapha can manifest in the form of seasonal allergies, weight gain, fatigue, lethargy, and confusion or mental ‘fogginess’.
Restoring Balance to Aggravated Kapha
During this time, Ayurveda advises us to choose lighter, dryer, warm cooked foods such as soups, steamed veggies and stir fry; favouring pungent, bitter, astringent tastes. It is recommended to reduce heavy, cold, oily and watery foods, and sweet, sour, salty tastes to prevent excess mucous, body mass, and mental fogginess. Some foods to reduce are the heavy sticky grains like oats, brown rice, wheat and yeast, soy products, all dairy, sugar, and salt.
The Kapha Diet
Favour astringent lighter grains such as barley, millet, white basmati or wild rice, sprouted grain, beans, lentils, smaller nuts and seeds including pumpkin, sunflower, chia and flax, lighter meats such as chicken and turkey, and astringent fruits and vegetables including apricots, pears, berries, cherries, cranberries, pomegranates, persimmons, lemons, limes, strawberries, asparagus, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, radish, mustard greens, fennel, garlic, green beans, mushrooms, kale, green beans, bell peppers, leeks, lettuce, green onions, leafy greens. Make sure to add astringent or bitter greens to every meal and eat them at the end to optimize your digestion and help cleanse toxins from the body as the astringent taste is digested last.
Spring is the season to cook with spices to stimulate the agni or digestive fire that can become slow and sluggish during kapha season. All fresh herbs are pungent in nature and will help to balance kapha. A few suggestions are dill, mint, parsley, cilantro, ginger rosemary and basil. Spices such as black pepper, ajwain, cardamom, clove, coriander, cumin, fennel, mustard, fenugreek, asafetida/hing, nutmeg, cayenne, cinnamon, and turmeric. Oils recommended for spring are sesame, sunflower, and almond oil, and ghee. Honey is the optimal sweetener due to its dry and warm qualities. Eating local honey can help manage seasonal allergies as it helps you build immunity to local pollens.
Yoga for Spring
The strength and stability of spring make is a great time for more vigorous exercise. Energizing yoga asanas are recommended for spring including faster paced sun salutations, backbends like bridge, wheel and camel pose as well as detoxifying twists to stimulate the digestive organs like sage twist, twisted chair pose, twisted lunge, and wind relieving pose. With twists is important to start on the right side, which gently compresses the ascending colon, then move to the descending colon on the left.