Exercises to Burn Excess Kapha

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Another way to shake off the kapha blues is to rise out of bed before kapha time (6-10AM), and do an aerobic exercise. This schedule will also help you fend off seasonal weight gain. If you’re feeling overextended, favor vata-pacifying types of exercise like walking, tai chi, or restorative/ slow flow yoga. If you’re feeling sluggish and heavy, give kapha prana boost with a more vigorous workout—potentially a bike ride, a challenging hike, vinyasa yoga, or ski.

Here are a few yoga postures that will burn off excess kapha:

  1. Sun Salutations invite heat and mobility to counteract the cold and stable qualities of kapha. They’re a great way to get the circulation and lymph moving first thing in the morning.
  2. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward facing dog) is a great heat-building challenge for the arms, back and legs, and also opens the chest.
  3. Parivrtta Utkatasana (Twisting Chair) builds heat in the legs while simultaneously pushing out the stagnation that can build up in the chest and lungs from excess kapha.
  4. Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon B) awakens the digestive organs and stretches the entire abdomen. The side-to-side motion also offers spaciousness to the lungs, where excess mucus can build up from excess kapha.
  5. Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II) is the perfect asana to build heat. Keep your arms wide open to encourage space in the heart chakra where the kapha dosha lives.
  6. Utthita Trikonasana (Triangle) encourages lateral flexion which aids in sluggish digestion and heightens respiratory function.
  7. Urdhva Dhanurasana (Wheel) or Dhanurasana increases circulation throughout your entire body and opens your heart chakra.
  8. Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand) reverses blood flow in the body, accumulated fluid in the ankles and legs (which can be caused by too much kapha) gets the chance to move and drain. Headstand also shifts the tendency of kapha to get stuck in the same old routines, by offering a whole new perspective on the world.

Diet Suggestions To Balance Kapha

Modifications to Harmonize Your Dosha:

It’s best to increase pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes in your warm and light meals. As soon as they’re available, eat sprouts, berries, dandelion and other spring greens—which naturally support this time of cleansing. And stick to three meals a day to avoid overindulging.

Vata: While your Vata dosha is usually soothed by sweet, sour, and salty tastes, this time of year may present some challenges. This is because the very tastes that pacify Vata also increase Kapha. The best approach your diet is to concentrate on herbs and foods that increase your agni and tastes that do not aggravate your Vata nature. Listen to your body.

Pitta: Increase bitter and astringent tastes in your diet and decrease sweets, which increase Kapha. While you still want to include the sweet taste to balance out your Pitta, be mindful of its Kapha-increasing effects. Pittas also need to avoid caffeine during this time of year. Warm drinks may be appealing, but caffeinated drinks may end up inadvertently contribute to a Pitta imbalance and symptoms of irritability.

It’s often suggested to add extra spices or sourness during this time for their phlegm-loosening effects, but Pittas need to be careful of the herbs and spices they choose. Here are a few that will help balance Kapha without irritating Pitta:

  •  Coriander
  • Cardamom
  • Turmeric
  • Cilantro
  • Licorice

Kapha: Stick to your usual Kapha-pacifying diet during this time. Do your absolute best to avoid sweetness and cold. As always, invigorating and warming spices are best for you. To reduce the chances of excess water retention, limit your salt intake.

All Doshas:

Fruits to Favor:

  • Apples (cooked)
  • Apricots
  • Berries
  • Cherries       
  • Figs
  • Grapefruit
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Mangoes      
  • Oranges

Vegetables to Favor:

  • Asparagus
  • Beets
  • Chilies
  • Eggplant
  • Garlic
  • Green Beans
  • Greens (cooked)
  • Leeks and Onions  
  • Spinach (cooked)
  • Winter Squash

Oils to Favor:

  • Almond Oil
  • Corn Oil
  • Flax Seed Oil           
  • Ghee
  • Mustard Oil
  • Olive Oil        
  • Safflower Oil
  • Sesame Oil
  • Sunflower Oil

Spices to Favor

All spices will generally be supportive during the winter months

Brr... It's cold outside!

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As we move through this kapha season, here are a few tips on how to maintain harmony within your body, mind and spirit during these winter months.  As the cold and wetness becomes heavier in the Northern Hemisphere, you’ve likely noticed subtle internal changes that accompany this season. With any shift in seasons, there are steps you can take to stay balanced even when the weather threatens to throw you off kilter.
 
The kapha dosha arises from the Earth (Prthvi) and Water (apas) elements. Kapha is stored in the brain, joints, mouth, head, neck, stomach, lymph, lungs, heart and esophagus. Per Ayurveda traditions, late winter and spring are the seasons of Kapha, reflecting the qualities of wet, cold, heavy, static, dull, smooth. When Kapha increases, you may experience:

  • excess mucous
  • weight gain/over indulging with sweets and heavy foods
  • poor circulation: cold hands and feet
  • water retention
  • sluggish digestion
  • depression/melancholy
  • sluggishness / lack of vitality
  • brain fog
  • over attachment: unable to let go (mental/emotional constipation)
  • chest colds/sinus colds
  • swollen lymph glands
  • excessive sleeping

Here are a few lifestyle adjustments that can invite in pacifying qualities of warmth, lightness, energy, and movement:

  • Avoid sleeping past 7am.
  • Stay warm and avoid dampness.
  • Morning sun salutations (surya namaskar) help stimulate circulation and the digestive fires (agni).
  • Neti pot.
  • Avoid taking naps during the day as this can increase kapha during this season.
  • Regular exercise that is vigorous in nature: running, swimming, hot yoga, vinyasa flow, or cycling.
  • Colors: yellow, orange, red.
  • Kapalabhati Pranayama “Breath of Fire” or Bhastrika “Bellows Breath”
  • Try something new! Do something different each day or at least once a week.
  • Avoid eating too much raw food. Less fats and animal proteins during this time.
  • The largest meal should be at lunch time.
  • To balance and reduce excess kapha use essential oils, herbs, vegetable/herbal oils and products that are dry (cypress, geranium, lemon), warm (black pepper, ginger, clove bud, cinnamon leaf) and light (citrus oils, conifer oils, eucalyptus, rosemary).
    • Drop 2-3 drops of Rosemary in the palm of your hand. Rub palms together and move towards nose holding palms open. Take a few deep inhalations. Be sure to wash hands once you are complete! 

 

More tips on how to maintain balance during winter are coming soon! #toolsforinnerpeace