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Lighten Up: Balancing Kapha Dosha

If you are slow to anger, sweet-tempered and larger in build, you probably have more of Kapha dosha in your mind-body makeup. Kapha dosha is comprised of the water and earth elements, so you will naturally have more moisture in your skin, for instance, and reflect more of the stability of the earth in your steady emotions. These are both admirable qualities, and there are many more that a Kapha person can claim: strength, stamina, loyalty, graceful movements, and a good long-term memory.

To stay healthy, though, you will need to counterbalance your watery, earthy nature by infusing more of the other three elements -- space, air and fire -- into your system. Adding these elements to your diet can keep you from developing the Kapha-aggravated imbalances that you might be susceptible to, such as respiratory congestion, oily skin, lethargy, mental dullness and weight gain.

Fire, Air and Space

The fire element is found in pungent, spicy tastes. Adding a little zing to your diet with spices can invigorate a sluggish metabolism. Pungent spices such as fresh ginger, chilies and black pepper, and cumin and turmeric are all Kapha balancing. You can sprinkle these spices in soups and stews, or sauté them in a small amount of olive oil and add to steamed vegetables.

The space and air element are found in the astringent and bitter tastes. Astringent tastes include split mung dhal and other beans and pulses, excellent foods for balancing the moist Kapha dosha. Cook them in a soup with vegetables and grains, and add the spices mentioned above. Astringent vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli and brussels sprouts are good choices for Kapha types, when cooked well and seasoned with Kapha Churna or other Kapha-balancing spices. Astringent fruits such as apples, pears, and pomegranate are good choices. Favor the grains that are lighter and easier to digest, such as barley and millet. Bitter tastes are found in greens such as spinach, kale, and chard, and herbs such as parsley and fenugreek. Cook your greens -- they are lighter and easier to digest than raw salads and other cold foods.

In general, you'll want to eat warm, well-cooked foods as these have the intelligence of fire added to them, and lighter, non-oily foods that are easier to digest, as these have the elements of space and air in their nature. You'll also want to go lighter on the sweet, sour and salty tastes, as these foods increase Kapha dosha.

Three Warm Meals a Day

You may be tempted to skip meals or habitually forget to eat breakfast. But the best thing to do is eat a light, warm breakfast to get the digestive fires burning. But wait, if you're reaching for the cold cereal with milk (sweet tastes) and bananas (sour), think again. The cold temperature and sweet and sour tastes only increase Kapha and are difficult to digest. Instead, try cooking a chopped apple or pear with prunes. Season with cinnamon or cardamom. This is an ideal breakfast for getting a slow Kapha digestion off to a good start -- light, easy to digest and warm.

At noon, you'll want to eat your heaviest meal, as that's when your digestive fire is strongest. If you eat meat, this is the best time to digest it. For protein, you could eat a dhal or lentil soup with vegetables and spices, along with a vegetable dish of cooked greens spiced with Kapha-balancing spices, a grain such as quinoa or polenta, and a piece of fruit for dessert.

In the evening, you could eat similar foods, only much smaller portions, because the digestive fire is muted after sunset. If you eat a large meal then, you'll only create ama, the waste product of digestion which contributes to disease and weight gain.

Sipping hot water or Kapha tea throughout the day is a good way to reduce ama. If you boil the water for five minutes first, it will become infused with the fire element and in turn infuse warmth into your body. Stay away from any ice-cold drinks, as those will only douse the digestive fire. One of the best digestive aids for a Kapha person is to avoid snacking between meals. Your slower metabolism will only get more sluggish if you eat food before the previous meal is digested. Give your digestion a break with these simple tips -- and you'll feel lighter and more energetic as a result.


These articles provide a great resource from The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians on the knowledge, practices, products, and applications of Maharishi Ayurveda.

Disclaimer
The sole purpose of these newsletters is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, prevention or cure of any disease. If you have any serious, acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area.