According to the AH.Su.11.3, Kapha is made of the combinations of Earth (Pṛthivi) and Water (Jala). Its presence confers stability, lubrication, compactness (firmness) of the joints, forbearance (capacity to withstand strain – physically and emotionally).
Kapha is the most similar to the majority of the Dhātus (tissues) and Malas (wastes) of the body, therefore healthy Kapha is the reason you are here! With the exception of Rakta and Asthi, all other tissues share almost the exact same guṇas as Kapha.
What are the Guṇas of Kapha?
Kapha is made of Earth and Water. Another way to say this is that it is made of the Guṇas : Snidgha (oily), Śita (cold), Sthula (stable), Guru (heavy), Sandra (dense), Manda (slow), Mṛdu (soft), Slakṣṇa (smooth), Picchila (sticky).
What are the Karmas (actions) of Kapha’s Guṇas?
- Snigdha : Kledane/Abhiśyandi (saturates)
- Guru : Bṛhane (builds)
- Manda : Śamane (pacifies)
- Śita : Stambhane (constricts)
- Slakṣṇa : Ropane (heals)
- Sandra : Prasanade (contents)
- Mṛdu : Ślathane (loosens)
- Sthira : Dharane (holds, stabilizes)
- Sthula : Samvarne (increases)
- Picchila : Lepane (plasters)
The guṇas of Kapha are necessary to exist as well as to enable the body to function properly. Diets and Lifestyles that lack these guṇas will cause the dysfunction of Kapha and a host of long-term problems. Consider diets that lack fat or those that have excess meat consumption etc.
What does it look like when Kapha is in Excess (Vṛddhi)
- Agnimandya (Sluggish Digestion)
- Excessive salivation
- Feeling of heaviness – especially after eating
- Whitish/cloudy coloration to tissues and wastes
- Looseness or immobility of the joints
- Difficulty breathing & Cough
- Mucus production & Heavy Wastes
- Excess Sleep/Lethargy
And in Depletion (Kṣaya)?
- Emptiness of the organs
- Heart Palpitations
- Loose Joints
AH.Su.11.7 & 16
Where Does Kapha Live?
Kapha’s homesite is here. Among other things, it is responsible for maintaining the balance between the intensity of Pitta and the mobility of Vāta.
Though most associates the joints with Vāta, this is incorrect. Kapha rules the joints, but their overuse & misuse puts the guṇas of Vāta there and so they can degrade.
Rasa Dhātu & Urdhva Bhaga (Upper Body)
The waste tissue of Rasa Dhātu is Kapha. Kleda – a Kapha-like substance, is also a bi-product of tissue making in general. The upper body, especially the chest and neck are aśrayas (places) of Kapha. Also places in the head like the nose, tongue, and fat. (AH.Su.12.3)
Taste + Season + Kapha Doṣa
Kapha is increased by the intake and engagement with :
- Sour (Amla), Sweet (Madhura), and Salty (Lavaṇa) Rasa
- Winter (Sancaya – Increased) + in Spring (Prakopa – Expressed)
Kapha is decreased by the intake and engagement with :
- Pungent (Kaṭu), Bitter (Tikta), and Astringent (Kaṣaya) Rasa
- Summer (Prasanna) AH.Su.12.25-27
A Note on Kapha & Uṣṇa (hot) Guṇa
Because Kapha is innately cold, sometimes its increase is difficult to notice until that cold guṇa changes. When heat is applied to areas and circumstances where Kapha is in Vṛddhi, it becomes vilayana (liquid and mobile). Thus, it is due to heat that Kapha’s sancaya (increase) is sometimes known.
This explains why, at the end of Winter, as Spring comes, and the “snows” – inner and outer – melt, liquid pours all over the ground and our faces.
This is also why Āyurveda recommends Kapha-type Karmas like Langhana, (lightening) Rukṣana (drying), and Vamana during this time.
What to Do?
The causes for the doṣa to increase are in correlation with excessive/improper engagement with the senses/sense objects as well as seasons that provoke their increase. (AH.Su.12.36)
Kapha becomes increased by the use of water and foods which possess similar qualities to Kapha itself, especially when in the season that share the qualities of Kapha or when the Digestive Fire (Jāṭharāgni) is dysfunctioning.
Thus, be mindful of overeating, over-drinking, day sleeping, eating before bed, lack of vyāyama (extending one’s capacity), too much sour, salty, and sweet food/drink.
Many of these described serve to block the openings of the channels, inhibiting proper circulation and causing Kapha to become problematic.