The Function of Kapha Dosha
Kapha Dosha represents the abstract quality of structure at the finest level of creation. It gives rise to the primordial “element” known as Earth and interacts with Pitta to give rise to Water. The qualities of Kapha reflect our surface-value associations with the terms earth and water. When balanced, Kapha stabilizes mind and body in the face of change. It gives strength, potency and fertility. It fosters love, courage, generosity and other highly-valued emotions.
|Qualities||Effects of Balance||Effects of Imbalance|
|Cold||Stability, firmness||Sluggish digestion|
Kapha is seated in the chest and stomach. Those with a Kapha-dominated Prakriti (constitution) tend to have a large, powerful chest and well-developed muscles. Their skin is smooth, oily and soft. Bones, joints and veins are well-covered. The eyes are milky white. The teeth are large, white and well-formed. Kapha-types tend to dislike cool damp weather. When they get cold, it affects them all over.
Effects of Kapha Imbalance
Due to its inherent stability, Kapha is the least likely of the Doshas to go out of balance. But when it does, bad things happen. Generosity can degenerate into greed. Strength and heaviness can become corrupted by obesity and/or diabetes. Slowness and calm can slide into lethargy and depression. Less severe imbalances may simply give rise to respiratory problems like colds and bronchitis. Also, Kapha is associated with swelling and tumors including cancer.
Note that Ama, the toxic products of faulty digestion and major contributor to disease, has qualities similar to that of degenerate Kapha. In particular, Ama is sticky and tends to accumulate in places of pre-existing weakness where it causes blockage or attracts Dosha imbalance. Ama s a major factor in many chronic conditions.
Kapha Periods in the Cycles of Nature
Kapha dominates in the first third of life, in the spring, the first hour after eating and in the hours following sunrise and sunset (6-10 AM and 6-10 PM). This is why we feel sleepy in the evening and will enjoy greater rest and rejuvenation if we get to bed before 10 PM. It is also why we’ll feel groggy and lethargic during the day if we sleep past sunrise. The Kapha period in the morning is the best time for vigorous exercise. A brisk walk in nature during the first hour or two after sunrise is nature’s best antidote to stress, anxiety and depression. Exercise in the evening may interfere with sleep and is not well-supported by the physiology because the fine channels shrink down for the night.
Young healthy children exemplify the bliss and joy of balanced Kapha. When children get sick, they commonly suffer from respiratory congestion. Induced vomiting is an ancient method for eliminating excess Kapha which acts directly on the stomach—the seat of Kapha. It explains why bulimia is such a toxic problem and severely weakens the physiology.
As we’ve already seen, the junction between winter and spring is the optimum time for detoxification. Kapha needs a much lighter diet than would satisfy the average person during winter (Vata season). This is why spring is such a good time to begin a program for sustainable weight control or to at least initiate a habit of fasting on liquids one day a week.
Coming Next: Pitta Dosha
Marc Edwards, MD