By Samantha Case
Life is lived in cycles. We see this in the changing of seasons, the human life journey, animal routines, and the phases of the moon. Like the environment, we’re also designed to live in cycles. That’s why Ayurveda teaches that an integral part to overall wellbeing is living in harmony with the rhythms of the seasons.
Each dosha has its own season, and we’re currently in the midst of Kapha season, which lasts from late winter through spring. In this guide we’ll explore the qualities of Kapha season and how to make choices that can help you live in harmony with this time of year without experiencing the less appealing aspects of late winter & spring: congestion, allergies, and colds.
Please keep in mind that seasons vary according to region. This guide is intended for those living in the Northern Hemisphere.
What Are Doshas?
According to Ayurveda, everything contains the five main elements: earth, air, water, fire, and space. They join together in various combinations to form three distinct doshas, and each one has unique physiological characteristics and functions in nature: Vata (air & space elements), Pitta (fire & water elements), and Kapha (earth & water elements). We each embody a dominant dosha constitution that influences our physical make-up, personality characteristics, interaction with the environment, and more. (Take our quiz to discover yours!)
Ayurveda & The Seasons
Each season also has its own dosha expression with specific qualities that can either aggravate or mitigate the elements within us depending on our own unique physical make-up, or dosha.
Vata Season: early fall to mid winter (primary: fall) Qualities of Vata: dry, light, cold, rough, subtle, mobile, clear
Kapha Season: mid winter to late spring (primary: spring) Qualities of Kapha: heavy, slow, cold, oily, smooth, dense, static, soft, cloudy
Pitta Season: late spring to early fall (primary: summer) Qualities of Pitta: oily, sharp, penetrating, hot, light, mobile, liquid
As an example, consider someone with a Pitta constitution. They’re more likely than someone with a Vata or Kapha constitution to experience a Pitta imbalance in the summer months of Pitta season. That’s because like increases like.
He or she already contains an abundance of fire and water qualities in their system. If they don’t adjust their habits to reduce these qualities in the season of Pitta, their body will experience excess. This imbalance may express itself in heat-related symptoms such as heartburn, diarrhea, rashes, temper, and more.
By understanding the seasons, our dosha, and how it’s all interconnected, we can make diet and lifestyle choices in each season that bring us to our natural state of equilibrium and prevent imbalance.
What Is Kapha Season?
Kapha season begins in the latter half of winter and lasts through much of spring. It’s the qualities of the atmosphere during this time of year that marks that beginning and end of Kapha season.
Qualities of Kapha season in the environment include:
Heaviness in the air from moisture caused by snow, rain, and melting ice
Dullness, dreariness with less sun
Stagnancy as the earth’s rhythm slows down and animals hibernate
Qualities of Kapha season in the body include:
Trouble waking in the morning
Congestion, mucus and colds
If you notice, the qualities of Kapha in the environment reflect how Kapha is experienced physically. By the end of winter, many of us inevitably emerge with a bit of Kapha accumulation since the environment increases these qualities within.
As we enter spring, the slight increase in temperature melts the heaviness of winter in the environment as well as in our bodies. This is to help the body rid of the excess. However, for some of us this process can trigger experiences like colds, congestion, and allergies. Thankfully we can use the wisdom of seasonal routines, or ritucharya, to make choices that support a smooth transition between winter and spring.
Avoiding Kapha Imbalance
Ritucharya–Ritu (season) and Charya (routine)–refers to the practice of adopting seasonal routines into your life. In Ayurvedic thought, responding to seasonal variations is essential for good health. We can respond to these changes in two primary ways:
Diet choices – type of food, preparation methods, food temperature, etc. Lifestyle choices – daily habits, exercise routine, sleep patterns, etc.
In order to avoid imbalance during Kapha season (the latter half of winter and the majority of spring), we want to favor diet and lifestyle choices with qualities that are opposite of Kapha. (Remember: like increases like and opposites balance.)
Kapha pacifying qualities include: Dry, light, rough, hot, clear, mobile, sharp
Supportive Habits During Kapha Season
Ginger is great for the body during this time of year! Add ginger to your meals or brew some invigorating ginger tea (see recipe below). Other heating foods and spices that are supportive during this time include onions, garlic, ginger, black pepper, chili pepper, and small amounts of cayenne pepper.
GINGER TEA RECIPE:
Thinly slice a 1 inch piece of ginger.
In a saucepan, combine the ginger with fresh water (use one cup of water per serving).
Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer.
Simmer for five minutes (or up to 10 minutes, if you want extra-strong tea).
Strain the tea to catch all of the ginger. If desired, serve your tea with a slice of lemon or orange. You might also add a light drizzle of honey or maple syrup.
Avoid heavy foods; choose light and warming foods
During Kapha season, reduce heavy and substantial foods like milk, bananas, dates, meat, sweets, and an excess of bread. Instead, eat lighter foods like berries, fresh vegetables, salads, and legumes. Also try not to overeat or snack between meals. Keep things light!
Begin the day with an invigorating workout
Increase your energy and help the body move excess kapha out of the body with exercise that gets the blood pumping and increases the heart rate. Physical activity will help to improve circulation, increase heat, and bring about a sense of lightness.
Rise early before the sunrise
Each day is also divided by the doshas, and Kapha times run from 6-10am and 6-10pm. Therefore, getting out of bed before or right as Kapha time begins in the morning (6am) is a good way to break through feelings of stagnation and lethargy that excess Kapha can cause. Sleeping in during this time of year can make it especially difficult to get up and going.
Take part in an Ayurvedic spring cleanse
Ayurveda suggests participating in seasonal cleanses, particularly at the transitions from winter to spring and fall to winter. A spring cleanse can be especially invigorating as we enter a new season of beginnings, increased daylight, budding plants, and an overall sense of aliveness. Ever hear of “spring cleaning?” We can greatly benefit by doing the same within.
As we begin our transition out of winter and into spring, take a moment to tune into the environment around you and your state of wellbeing. What do you notice? Can you pick up on the qualities of Kapha? Sometimes connecting with nature is as simple as noticing. With awareness and knowledge of each season and how your body responds to its qualities, you can begin to make choices for your life that positively impact your health. This Kapha season, we hope you start to explore what it means to live in harmony with the seasons and ultimately with nature.