Today we continue with our exploration of ayurveda. Thank you for staying tuned in for the last but not least of the doshas – kapha dosha (which by the way lends itself best to patience).
Kapha, literally ‘that which holds (us) together’, functions as the container of the vata (air) and the pitta (fire) described in the last few posts. It is the water/earth element in each of us, the skin and membranes, the fleshy bits, the tummy, the tissue that contains the digestive system, the part of the lungs that holds the air, etc.
If you are someone who really uses the hand towel to wipe sweat during yoga class, or whose yoga mat get sprinkled by drops of sweat, you have the benefit of kapha dosha. Kapha is water, which takes the form of healthy sweating, sometimes annoying mucus, and well-lubricated joints. Kapha types often respond well to physical information, and, as such, often get more physical adjustments than other students.
My Dad (see photo above) is King of Kapha. His potential is as vast as the ocean, a storehouse of the essential energy of the water in it. You can see that he has great skin, big eyes, well-formed teeth, and large-boned features. What you can’t see in the photo is his strong immune systems, and incredible endurance – all classic kapha attributes.
Like the ocean, he is heavy, moves slowly and steadily (they called him Steady Eddie when he was a kid), and stores heat well. With all his water, he can work up a healthy sweat if he applies himself. He can eat almost anything, but digests slowly and can go all day barely eating. His body tends to turn food to fat to store energy rather spreading it like the wind (vata) or burning it in the fire (pitta).
This steadiness of body applies also to mind and heart. In many ways, he has held together our family (which does have some fire and air, god help us) over the years. He has been a devoted husband and father in our home for my whole life. He has risen to go to work with regularity of an ocean tide, holding fast to his course as he navigated the hills and turns of a long and fruitful career in business. He is an extraordinarily loyal customer at the classic and top-notch clothier of his choice. Kapha, like water, are about storage of energy. You should see this guy’s garage, or even closet. His boxes, bins, and labels would make any librarian envious.
Of all the people in my family to whom the yoga would come naturally, it would be my Dad. And herein lies the paradox. It is also no coincidence that my Dad is not on the yoga mat every morning jumping into pretzels like my sister and me. However agreeable may be the idea of benefiting from physical fitness in the morning, the physical reality of saving energy by resting always wins. It would take an unnatural for him amount of vata (to stimulate and move him) and pitta (to warm him up) to turn my Dad into a yogi.
Those kapha types fortunate enough to find yoga can catch needed fire from the collective of enthusiastic practitioners and teachers. The skilled teacher can add some air to their practice by showing them dynamic and creative ways to align the body and mind. The teacher can help them keep the practice fresh rather them letting falling to attachment and stagnation.
Thus, we come back to the origin of all this dosha business. The point is for us all to balance our doshas individually and collectively. We all have all three doshas in a unique and constantly changing manifestations. We all are challenged to cultivate the weaker dosha and keep the dominant ones in check.
Unchecked kapha, can cause lethargy, lack of motivation, excess sleep, attachment, depression, even possessiveness. My Dad can overcome these challenges by retiring from the kingship of kapha, bringing to power his duke and bishop – Air and Fire. He could support the vata by learning to breath better, trying new unthinkable and random things, trying to let go of some of his perceived pillars. He can learn to fuel his fire by changing his diet, by eating more often.
The doshas are terms which describe the physical and mental aspects of us. We can use them as tools to perceive and work with ourselves and our collective. The application of this theory takes some practice. An ayurvedic doctor can have a quick look at someone, take the pulse, glance at the tongue and have a remarkably profound understanding of that person.
For more information about doshas, take some quiet time to read thoroughly through this scientific description http://aysnyc.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=202&Itemid=165