What Is Kapha?


Every time I teach an Ayurveda course, I find that many students are entering with the impression that Kapha is the "worst dosha" and that it's completely undesirable. They take their dosha test and groan in disappointment and dispair when Kapha shows up dominant in their constitution. This is probably due to the fact that Kapha is associated with the qualities of laziness, greed, materialism, excess weight, and congestion and mucus. Honestly, none of that sounds very appealing to me either. But let's be clear- these are the qualities of UNBALANCED Kapha. And what Kapha has in it's less desirable qualities, it MORE than makes up for in it's desirable ones. Kapha is also warmth, compassion, stamina, vitality, strength and stability, steadiness of mind, and peace. A Kapha in balance is a friend that you can always count on to truly be there for you in a time of need. Who doesn't want those qualities?! That sounds like a great human right there! So let's talk about what gives Kapha all of these qualities.

Kapha in the Physical Sense

The word Kapha is the combination of the two sanskrit words "ka", water, and "pha", flourish, suggesting an abundance in water. And rightly so! Kapha is the combination of the elements of Earth and Water. We see Kapha in the body as the structural elements of our being. This includes all parts of us that have a physical structure from the individual cells, to muscle, bone, connective tissue, and fascia, as well as the the vital fluids of the body like lymphatic fluid, blood plasma, mucous, synovial fluid, cerebrospinal fluid...basically all of the water portions of our being. The element of Earth is the only element that has a solid mass, and we can see this reflected in the physical build of the Kapha person. People who are predominantly Kapha in their physical nature have very sturdy bones and a solid build. The volume of water is also reflected in Kapha physically by their tendency to hold onto water weight and generate more mucous. These things may not sound "nice," but they're actually great for health! Kaphas often have good immune systems, soft and naturally moisturized skin, strong healthy teeth, thick luscious hair, and thick eyelashes, look younger than Vata and Pitta people, sleep well, heal quickly, have less chance of developing osteoporosis, and have more stamina than the other two doshas in general. All good things right?!

Kapha in the Mental/Emotional Sense

Just like the physical properties of Earth and Water show up in those who are physically predominant in Kapha, we see these qualities as mental and emotional manifestations in those who are more Kapha mentally and emotionally. The sturdiness, stability, and abundance that we see in the body, also translates to mental/emotional constitution and in how Kaphas show up in life.

So just to be clear, it is possible for someone to be more Pitta or Vata in body type, but mentally and emotionally more Kapha, or physically more Kapha, but mentally and emotionally more Pitta or Vata. (If you really want to get into the depths of it, get a vedic astrology reading...it'll blow your mind!) Again, we all have all three doshas within us, they just show up more in certain areas.

Okay back to Kaphas. They are generally quite grounded people, are easily content, and are compassionate, forgiving, and loving. They have a calm demeanor and steady minds...they're really nice people to be around when they're in balance...calming, loving, nurturing energy. Who doesn't want to be around that??? I mean really. So Kaphas be proud! You're predominate in all the qualities that make for a healthy human, and in the qualities that make for the most quality human beings :)