Our bodies are continually exposed to natural seasonal changes, which has a direct effect on how we feel. In nature kapha is called soma, it is all things cooling and nourishing. Things like the moon, forests, freshwater or plant nectar all represent kapha in our external environment. When the season is providing an abundance of cold, rainy, snowy weather there is greater potential for kapha vṛddhi (increased kapha). In our internal environment kapha performs both normal and abnormal opposing activities, such as sturdiness or looseness, nourishment or leanness, enthusiasm or laziness, potency or impotency, wisdom or ignorance, and many other opposing pairs.
The qualities of Kapha include dampness, coldness, softness, stickiness, jelly-like texture, and is heavy blocking and stable. These qualities of kapha naturally manifest in the winter but are more readily experienced during the Spring. When the warming weather melts kapha from its solid form, the fluidity of kapha creates respiratory congestion with damp mucus-like fluid. Many people experience sinus congestion, coughing, and allergies which are all common symptoms that kapha is melting or moving from its stable form.
Kapha also accumulates in the digestive system and slows our metabolism. Again, these same qualities of heaviness and dampness combined with cold accumulate and suppress the digestive process. As a result, digestion is sluggish and our bodies respond naturally by suppressing hunger and appetite. This is nature’s way of maintaining homeostasis or a normal state of self. When the digestion process is slower than what is required for optimal bodily function, it is called manda āgni. In this state, weak digestion creates congestion, and for some indigestion, constipation, and even headaches.
Kapha naturally builds and accumulates during the cold winter season and the warming sun of spring and early summer naturally melt or liquefy kapha. The melting of kapha disturbs and decreases metabolism directly affecting digestion and respiration. Kapha in its solid winter state feels comfortable. However, it’s when kapha melts we experience the uncomfortable symptoms. This is the signal its time to modify your foods and activities. With proper seasonal modification, the effects of kapha will normally subside.
During the spring season, lightening procedures should be done to reduce the accumulated kapha. One should avoid heavy, sour, oily sweet foods and change toward lighter easily digested meals. Meals properly cooked with ginger, shallots, cumin, black pepper, and chili aid the process of reducing excess kapha.
When the spring flowers begin to bloom, this is the signal to begin a regular exercise routine. As well as dry brushing, herbal gargling, eye washing, and even therapeutic smoking are recommendations to reduce kapha.
After modifying your foods and activities, if you still have symptoms of excess kapha, there are Āyurvedic products to help manage symptoms. We recommend Vyoshadi Vatakam or Pippalya Asavam for respiratory congestion and Jīraka Arishtam for sluggish digestion.
All views and information shared here are only for the sharing of Ayurvedic knowledge. Please do not try or prescribe or take any of the remedies and suggestions here without talking to your regular, qualified doctor. Kottakkal Ayurveda and no other person associated with Kottakkal is responsible for unwanted side-effects or contraindications in your health.
One of the most senior Ayurvedic experts of our time, Padma Bushan Dr. P.K. Warrier the Managing Trustee and Medical Director of the 118-year-old Arya Vaidya Sala, Kottakkal, India talks briefly on the Ayurvedic potential for the current coronavirus pandemic.
Herbal steam inhalation is a great way to help open congested sinuses and bronchial airways caused by a cold, flu, or allergy. Herbal steams are also used before Nasya therapies to help open the nasal airway.
The steam from the boiling water is often sufficient to help congestion; however, by adding herbs that help respiratory disorders, the effect is far more notable.