Elements: Earth + Water
Qualities: moist, cold, heavy, static, sticky, soft, cloudy, slow and smooth
Governs: Cohesion, Lubrication, Nourishment and Repair
Life Phase: birth to puberty
Season: Late Winter to Spring
Lunar Phase: Full Moon
Daily Cycle: 6am – 10 am and 6pm – 10pm
Kapha arises from the elements of earth and water. It is the energy of cohesion, lubrication, nourishment and repair. Kapha is the feeling of safety, groundedness and well being.
It is the weight, the strength and the juicyness of our body and mind. The refined essence of kapha is ojas.
Kapha is like a swan, an elephant or a whale.
Kapha in the Body + Mind :::>>
People with a lot of kapha in their constitution are curvy, voluptuous or strong and hearty. They can have plump, full lips, big dewy eyes and thick lustrous hair with darker tones.
Their joints are usually deep seated, and the body is full or thick.
Kapha energy creates a sense of easiness and relaxation. People with a lot of kapha are more down to earth and like to go with the flow. They often don’t want to ‘rock the boat’ and just want everyone to be happy.
Kapha is nurturing and caring. It supports healers and caregivers. Kapha types are deep listeners, long-lasting lovers, and big-hearted honey’s. Kapha creates compassion, forgiveness, calmness, happiness and contentment.
Excess kapha creates weight gain, mucous, phlegm, sinus congestion, clammy skin, heaviness, lethargy, water retention, swollen joints, a cold body and weak digestion. Excess kapha in the mind brings your attention to the past. It creates depression, attachment, hoarding, fogginess in the mind, a dullness, loss of inspiration, and difficulty letting go. Often times people with a strong kapha constitution find it challenging to express their emotions.
Late winter and early spring are the seasons of kapha dosha. The elements of earth and water are predominate. The spring rains and melting snow make the earth and soil heavy, thick and damp. Everything is wet, sticky and muddy. This can create the feelings of heaviness or dampness in the body, and things like sinus congestion or spring allergies can show up.
After eating heavier winter foods and building extra fat to nourish the nervous system, the build up of kapha in the body is ready to be cleared out for the summer. Clearing out the ama or plaque that might have built up, the heaviness, the extra fat or even the mucous clears the channels for more spaciousness to help the body stay cool in the summer.
To Balance and Support Your Kapha :::>>>
Elements: Fire + Water
Qualities: oily, sharp, hot, light, acidic, spreading and liquid
Governs: Transformation, Conversion, Digestion
Life Phase: Puberty to Menopause, Middle Age, Maiden/Mother
Lunar Phase: Waxing Moon to Full Moon
Daily Cycle: 10am – 2pm and 10pm – 2 am
Pitta arises from the elements of fire and water. It is the energy of transformation, conversion and digestion. It’s like the sun or the fire within our bodies that breaks down and transforms. It creates heat and gives light.
Pitta creates luster, confidence, clear vision, and a strong will. It helps us discriminate, speak to the point, maintain body temperature and adds color to life.
Pitta is like a hawk or a tiger.
Pitta in the Body + Mind :::>>
Pitta is expressed in radiant, colorful or piercing eyes. People with high pitta tend to have strong facial features – a sharp nose, strong jawline, or heavy brow bone. They tend to have fair skin that is sensitive to the sun and also freckles, red fiery hair or blonde colorings. High pitta also creates balding or early graying of the hair.
The pitta body is of medium build and medium height, with more muscle tone or a stronger physique.
Strong pitta creates strong leadership – good speaking skills, goal oriented and big visions. It also creates a desire for organization, neatness, and having things “in order.” Making lists, having a plan, and being on time or right on schedule is pitta to a T. Pitta is witty, intelligent, and easily in the present moment.
Excess pitta creates a sharp tongue and can lead to criticizing or hurtful words. It causes irritability, anger, annoyance, frustration and a hot temper.
High pitta creates acid reflux, inflammation, skin rashes, acne, heartburn, diarrhea, infections, excess sweating, sensitivity to heat and light, burning sensations, sharp headaches, migraines, red eyes, and an acidic smell.
Summer emphasizes the elements of fire and water – the energy of pitta dosha.
Summer is hot, bright and colorful. During the summer months, the intensity of pitta creates more pitta within you.
In the beginning of the summer people often feel motivated, exuberant, and charged up for the months ahead. By the end of the summer and long, hot days, the build-up of pitta can create burn-out, exhaustion, a hot temper, irritability, or any of the signs of pitta imbalance from excess heat. Summer season, pitta season, is a time for everyone to be more mindful of balancing their pitta.
In the lunar cycle, pitta is strongest during the waxing to full moon. Goddess Artemis is the perfect archetype to represent the energy of the waxing moon, or pre-ovulation. Strong, fierce, pulling back the bow to unleash the arrow for her target personifies the feelings for the pitta lunar phase.
To Balance and Support Your Pitta ::: >>
Elements : Ether + Air
Qualities : dry, light, cold, rough, subtle, mobile
Governs : Movement, Change, Mobility
Life Phase : Elder, Crone, Old Age
Season : Winter
Lunar Phase : Dark Moon
Daily Cycle : 2 am – 6 am + 2 pm – 6 pm
Vata is the first and most subtle dosha, arising from the elements of ether and air. It is very light, changing, ethereal and quick.
Vata governs all the movement within the body and nature. It is the energy of action and transportation. It is the wind. It is constantly on the move. It is light, strong and expansive.
Vata is like a hummingbird.
Vata in the Body + Mind :::>>>
Vata is all about movement in your body and mind. It is the movement of food moving from your mouth, down your throat and all the way through and out your colon. It moves menstruation down and out, moves your breath, and moves the neurological functions of your brain and nerve impulses. Vata is the beating rhythm of your heart and the action of blood flowing through your veins.
Just like the wind, vata can be quick, changeable, and a powerful force that can move fire, water or earth.
Vata in the body has a light, dry, subtle and quick influence.
People with a lot of vata energy can be very tall, thin, and kind of lanky. Or they could be very short and petite. Their bones tend to be long, thin, and more protruding. Hair can be rough, dry and light. Curly hair or thin, dry, or coarse hair is vata hair. The same with the skin – it is dry, tends to be more rough or very subtle and might even have a translucent quality to it. There will be more coldness to the skin. High vata also creates coldness in the extremities.
People with a surplus of vata energy love movement and action. When they tell a story, it can appear they are talking with their whole body and or they might make a lot of hand gestures. Or they might move around, pace, tap their feet, or have trouble sitting still.
Vata people love to travel, love to be on the go, love spontaneity and random schedules.
In the mind and emotions, vata creates: excitement, joy, creativity, inspiration, intuition, imagination and amazement.
Vata is strong in artists, dancers, writers, poets, luminaries, psychics and energy workers.
High vata, or an excess or blockage creates mental imbalances. Too much vata contributes to: worry, fear and doubt. It creates ADD, an inability to focus, a feeling of being ungrounded, insomnia, dizziness, light-headedness, anxiety, OCD, and most mental disorders.
High vata in the body creates: restlessness, dry skin, dry eyes, constipation, bloating, gas, thinness, weight loss or a lack of healthy fat (also seen as a lack of self-love), varicose veins, tremors, coldness, poor circulation, tightness, twitching, pain, and insecurity.
The fall and early winter bring forth the qualities of vata. The air is cold, light, and windy. The leaves are dry and rough. The wind is variable and moving. Fall is a time of harvest – business or extra movement to get things done in preparation for the upcoming winter ‘hibernation.’ The dryness, coldness, strong winds and rough weather increases vata energy in everyone.
The subtle dosha Ojas arises from the dosha kapha. Kapha is the energy of earth and water. It is the stabilizing, building, physicality of the body.
Ojas is the pure essence of all the bodily tissues, the refinement and nectar that is created when the dhatu agnis (tissue metabolism) is prime and tejas is balanced. Ojas is the gel of consciousness, the container.
Ojas creates unity consciousness, the cohesion of all. As an individual, it is immunity. Ojas is the potential source of strength, power, and natural resistance. It is feeling into the ground of beingness, and having the sense that all is well. Ojas is order, the simplicity, point zero. In tantra it is known as Shiva consciousness and I like to consider it your moony essence.
Ojas is what holds prana, and is made by tejas. All three in the trinity are dependent and effected by another. When harmonizing, one experiences great inspiration, energy, a sense of richness and bliss. Too much or too little ojas will impact your health and experience of consciousness
The subtle dosha Tejas arises from the dosha of pitta. Pitta is the energy of fire and water. It is the transformative power within the body.
Tejas is the burning flame of pure intelligence, the luminosity of awareness, the spark of consciousness.
It is the fire of digestion and transformation that we take in and experience, including – food, liquids, thoughts, emotions, actions, events, everything.
“As we take in universal tejas into the individual body we become more awake. We become more directed. We take action in alignment for the good, the true and the beautiful,” Cate Stillman.
Tejas is the evolutionary impulse to act, move, expand. It is expression and excitement. It is the never-ending unfolding of something simple into greater complexity. (A cell multiplying to form tissues, tissues to form organs, organs to form a human, humans create a society, evolving into the future…)
Tejas is Shakti! It’s a dynamic movement, spark, and the prakruti or initial spark of creation.
The balance of tejas in the every-changing experience of life is fundamental to creating supreme ojas and containing prana. When your tejas is out of whack, it can show up as signs within your body, mentality, or general experience.
EXPRESSIONS OF TEJAS :: —>>
The subtle dosha Prana arises from the dosha of vata. Vata is the energy of space and air. It governs all movement in the body.
Prana is the flow of intelligence and the pulse of consciousness.
It is the great communicator to connect all systems within the body, a bridge that brings together two points. Prana is the movement and pulsation that happens. It is your beating heart, your inhale and exhale, swallowing your food and moving your waste out. It is also the energy movement through the nadis (energy channels) and the movement of your chakras and aura. Prana is the connecting link between the material, consciousness and the mind.
In the trinity of Prana, Tejas and Ojas: tejas creates ojas and ojas protects prana. All three are inherently connected and dependent on each other. An increase or decrease in one will effect the other. Building awareness on the subtle energies will help you listen to your body better and make the best choices for better health and harmony.
When prana is in optimal flow, we experience great health and harmony with an abundance of energy and vitality. If prana becomes blocked, deficient or excessive health issues will arise.
EXPRESSIONS OF PRANA :: --->
Using the six tastes in Ayurveda is both a simple and comprehensive way to support healing and create balance within your body and mind.
Everything in the universe is comprised of energy, with an expression of qualities (or gunas) : the weather, the season, an apple or some leafy kale, even a headache or a certain mood.
When you tap into the six tastes, the 20 gunas and your heightened awareness, you can use the language and wisdom of Ayurveda to choose what tastes and specific foods or herbs will create the desired effect on your body and mind and avoid others that can aggravate your issues and cause further discomfort.
Stewed apples with oats, cinnamon and almond butter can be a great breakfast for certain people or a certain time of year, while for others it could create a sense of heaviness, dullness and congestion.
A green smoothie might be the answer for a kapha or pitta type person, but for someone with high vata or during the cold dark vata winter it can create ungroundedness, chills, dryness, bloating and lead to constipation.
So – how to choose what tastes are best for you?
Ideally you want to include all six tastes in each meal, or at least your biggest meal of the day. This creates an over-all feeling of satisfaction and relates to all three doshas (energies) that you have in your body and mind.
What you want to do is portion your meal to include the six tastes based on what you personally need.
First, start with the season. We always want to eat what mother earth is naturally producing in abundance. This will help keep your body, mind, and emotions balanced through the season and yearly cycle. It’s also how we stay connected to nature, our ecosystem and the unsurpassed intelligence of the natural world.
Second, choose foods based on your own energetic make-up and how you uniquely and personally experience the doshic energies. Remember that you have all three doshas and a unique proportion of them. AND you experience the qualities of the doshas in your own way. It’s a dynamic dance that is always changing.
Instead of labeling yourself “I am a pitta so I should eat xyz…” check in with yourself!! How are you feeling? If you have any health symptoms, what are they like? What is the weather of the season lately? How has your mood been…? And what gunas (qualities) will balance that? Then — what tastes have those qualities?
Building your self awareness and knowledge of the six tastes will empower you to make better choices for life, and truly use food as your medicine.
If you have any health issues you would like some extra insight or support with, schedule an Ayurvedic Assessment with me and we can see how a shift in diet, lifestyle and daily practices can support you to feel better.
The Six Tastes
Agni is Sanskrit for “fire.”
Agni, the fire within, is responsible for the digestion, absorption, assimilation and transformation of food and experiences into energy. Ayurveda classifies 40 different agnis, or fires, within the body. The largest, and most significant fire is jāthara agni – the main digestive fire where the stomach meets the small intestine.
A strong, balanced agni is fundamental to good health.
When digestion is working well you feel clear, light, radiant, confident and energized.
When digestion becomes unbalanced, it creates ama. Ama is any undigested food, thoughts or emotions held within the body and the number one cause of disease!
It can’t be overemphasized that a healthy digestion is KEY to being healthy.
When our digestive fire is strong and balanced, we digest our food well. Properly digested food is able to be absorbed and assimilated into the body as nutrients, creating the cells and tissues of our physical form. We believe – “We are what we eat” or the more appropriate Ayurvedic saying “You are what you digest.”
Well digested food becomes readily available nutrients, creating healthy cells and tissues, thus creating a healthy, strong, well formed body. Someone with a healthy fire on all levels emanates a healthy glow. They have ample energy, enthusiasm, vision and motivation.
“Neither food nor environment upsets those people with the gift of sama agni. The have a calm, quiet, loving mind and great clarity of awareness and bliss.” Dr. Vasant Lad
In opposition, improper digestion can become one of the first and foremost ways to create health issues and disease.
Four Types of Agni
Kapha Balancing Diet
THE BEST FOODS FOR:
Kapha Season – Spring
Manda Agni = Slow Digestive Fire
Pungent, Bitter and Astringent Taste
Sweet, Salty, and Sour Taste
Kapha qualities are: moist, cold, heavy, dull, soft, sticky
Kapha balancing foods are: light, dry, warming and stimulating
Kapha shows up mainly in the late winter and spring time. It can also be seen whenever we have excess weight, water, or mucous in the body or a heavy, lethargic, slow or dull mental/emotional state. Or a weak, slow digestive fire. In the spring we see it as the melting snow, heavy rains, flowing rivers, wet thick muddy earth, and dense cloudy skies. This is also time for the body to clear out and cleanse from the heavier winter foods. To reduce or balance the kapha, we can bring in more heat, invigoration, and lightness.
The light spring greens – the sprouts, shoots, and bitter berries that nature provides are the perfect antidote to heavy, thick, cloudy kapha and burning off the winter weight. Bitter and astringent tastes have a reducing effect on the body. They will pull the weight, mucus, and heaviness out of the tissues while naturally detoxifying. Astringent includes beans and legumes, fruits like pomegranate or berries, some spices like turmeric, and many vegetables. All vegetables in general are good for kapha. It’s even better to prepare them roasted, baked or grilled and well spiced. This creates more of a lightening, drying effect.
Hot, clear, brothy soups are really great. More spices – black pepper, basil, cayenne, clove, cinnamon, ginger, lemon, mustard, turmeric etc can be used. Warm, spicy teas or hot lemon water are great!
Things that are heavy, cold and sticky should be reduced, or avoided when kapha is out of whack: dairy, gluten, pastas, oily food, sweets, bananas, roasted nuts and salt. Or eating cold drinks and cold food in general. Also, make sure to wait until your hunger is strong (about a 7 on a scale from 1-10), don’t over-eat/ over indulge or drink too much water or liquids while eating or directly after a meal.
To read more about a kapha balancing lifestyle, click here.
Best Foods for Kapha
Pitta Balancing Diet
THE BEST FOODS FOR:
Pitta Season – Summer
Teekshna Agni = Sharp Digestive Fire
Sweet, Bitter and Astringent Taste
Salty, Sour and Pungent Taste
Pitta qualities are: oily, sharp, hot, light, moving, liquid and acidic
Pitta balancing foods are: cooling, drying, more dull or bland, simple, and heavy
The pitta balancing diet is for the summer season, anyone who is experiencing higher pitta in their body/mind, or anyone with a sharp, teekshna digestive fire.
When the fire is strong (in the digestive tract, the mind, emotions, tissues of the body, and in the sky) it’s time to have an easy, cooling and calming diet and lifestyle. The most cooling foods come from the sweet and simple tastes of fresh juicy fruits, sweet veggies, bitters (such as bitter greens, cauliflower or broccoli) and astringent foods like beans, pomegranate, kale and turmeric.
Cooling greens, lettuces, sprouts and cilantro cleanse the heat and toxicity from the liver and blood. This keeps pitta chill, calm and clear. It prevents redness or rashes in the skin and a ‘hot blooded’ temper, irritability, anger and a heavy menstruation.
Eating a very simple diet, that is almost bland or a lot of mono foods, is also helpful; less fancy, flashy, extravagant meals and more basic, wholesome foods. Because pitta has the strongest fire, people with more pitta can handle a more raw diet that requires a strong digestion.
Sweet, neutral grains are also good- such as rice, barley, couscous or quinoa. And beans, lentils and legumes are also great for pitta. They have a cooling effect due to the astringent taste, and the high pitta increases the ability to digest.
Because pitta is already oily, less oil and healthy fats are necessary. When oil is used, coconut is the best choice because it is cooling. It can also be applied to the skin.
Sour, salty and pungent tastes are heating and should be reduced or eliminated depending on your needs. Sour includes – tomatoes, sour cream, yogurt, ferments like Kombucha or sauerkraut.
Stimulants like coffee, caffeine, cacao, hot sauce will strongly imbalance pitta and should be cut out. Alcohol is also highly heating and will set the blood aflame. If you choose to indulge, a wheat beer is better than hard liquor or wine.