Do you feel like cocooning in this season? The nature around us certainly is. And for us human beings this is the perfect time to follow nature and surrender into the stillness of this season. Winter is a time for wisdom, a time for reflection, intention setting, hibernation and inward focus. What is better than to sit down on your coach with a good book and a mug of hot chocolate? Silence please!
However winter is also the season that a lot of people feel a bit down. Following the rhythms of nature, late winter and Spring are the seasons when Kapha is naturally most prominent in your body. The qualities of Kapha, being slow, stagnant, heavy and dull, can make you feel like you never want to get out of bed again. Although retreating into your soul in winter time is a natural thing to do, we do want to maintain that balance of Ying and Yang energy, of action and rest to stay healthy, happy and energetic. So here is what to do to avoid that winter blues!
What is Kapha (in a nutshell)?
Kapha is the intelligent manager of growth and nourishment. It provides the body with stability, structures and lubrication and it does so through the elements of Earth and Water. The main qualities of Kapha are heavy, cold, oily, stagnant, smooth and slow. So as you can imagine, when Kapha builds up in your body, you can also start to feel more heavy, fatigued and lethargic. Buildup of mucus (common colds) and heaviness in the stomach area are also signs of excess Kapha in your system.
How to Balance Kapha?
In order to keep Kapha balanced, add the opposite qualities of Kapha into your diet and lifestyle. Counter the heavy, cold and oily qualities with light, dry and warm substances. If Kapha becomes more dominant besides the physical effects of feeling more heavy and lethargic, you can notice you tend to cling more to the status quo and existing routines. Your senses might need some stimulation by new sights, sounds, and experiences!
• Integrate the pungent taste in your diet. This taste is composed of the elements fire & air which directly combats Kapha. Also add on more of the bitter and astringent taste to your diet. (discover more on tastes in our previous blog post "Manage your health with the 6 tastes".)
• Eat spices— like ginger, cinnamon, cumin, black pepper and other common kitchen spices. This will heat up your body from the inside and stimulates your digestive fire. Limit the use of salt. If you do start to feel more lethargic and heavy, add more pungent spices like cayenne and chilli pepper.
• Eat clean fresh fruits, especially fruits that are not too sweet nor sour like apples and pears. Even better is to stew the fruit for 10 minutes in some water with cinnamon & cloves.
• Stock up on (cooked) vegetables, especially more bitter and astringent vegetables like dark leafy greens, asparagus, brussels sprouts, chicory, broccoli and cauliflower.
• Use honey as a sweetener (it has an astringent aftertaste and a scraping effect)
• Drink room temperature or warm drinks. Think herbal teas, green or black tea.
• Eat your beans. Most beans have astringency and are light and drying in quality.
• Use a minimal amount of high-quality corn oil, sesame oil, olive oil, or ghee in your daily diet.
• Avoid yoghurt, especially in the morning, when it is Kapha time of the day. Also reduce or avoid hard cheese, red meats, white carbs and nuts in general as these foods have very similar qualities to Kapha.
• Only eat if you are hungry. If you are not yet hungry in the morning, skip breakfast and instead drink warm water with ginger. Have lunch at 12:30 and an early dinner around 17-18:00.
• Avoid snacking between meals.
• Increase giving, sharing, letting go. Share the abundance you naturally have.
• Increase exercise, especially dynamic movements like running or vinyasa yoga. It is recommended to move until sweat starts to form. In yoga asana, focus on poses that stimulate the Kapha area in your body, like backbends, side stretches and heart openers.
• Add heating pranayama to your routine, like kapalabhati and bhastrika.
• Increase heat through saunas or deep vigorous massage with a minimum of heating oil like mustard oil.
• Dry brush your whole body before showering, use a natural bristled brush to get yourself moving mentally, energetically and physically by stimulating circulation and the waters of the lymphatic system. This is especially recommended in early spring!
• Sleep less, go to bed early and get up early (before dawn). Avoid sleeping during the day.
• Diffuse essential oils of orange, mandarin, grapefruit, rosemary, or any other uplifting, motivating and warming scent.
• Declutter your space, let go of stuff and notice the clarity and lightness it brings.
• Use a neti pot or a nasal oil to clear your sinuses. If you sense dryness afterwards, add a drop of sesame oil into the nostrils.
• Bring in sense stimulation, new sights, sounds, colors and smells. Trying new things will keep you inspired.
• If you feel heavy or sad, take a walk towards the rising sun to feel that every day is a new opportunity.
In early spring, when the air becomes warmer, Kapha gets more liquid. Early spring is the perfect time to do a spring cleanse and support your body in expelling the excess Kapha dosha. This year TRIPTI will host an online cleanse again AND we are hosting a Spring cleanse retreat in PORTUGAL in April! Check out our website for more details!