Himalayan Yoga Academy

Education & research Foundation

Yoga for Kapha

6 Nov 2021 HYN Himalayan Yoga Academy

yoga for kapha

General Considerations-

Yoga for Kapha dosha promotes strength, purifies the physical body, and develops stamina, which balances the earth/water quality of Kapha. Attention is focused upon the development of muscle strength and stamina by holding postures within specific Vinyasa sequences. The practice has a grounding benefit. At the same time as one develops strength, one must also soften that strength much as earth is softened by water. This allows the muscles to become strong and defined but not hard and the skin to be soft and malleable. A rock hard physique with too little body fat is the result of overemphasis upon Pitta`s fire, which burns away the watery qualities of permeability and openness.

The yogi`s body while not slender and hard contains all the elements, enveloped in a soft warm skin. Swami Prakashananda is one example. His body was round and soft, similar to the body of woman entering her second trimester of pregnancy. I had seen this in our guru`s body and in his guru`s body as well. Prakashananda invited me to message him at the end of each day. I began with his feet, only to find his skin was remarkably soft, Luxurious life cashmere, yet also uniquely warm and luminous. I thought it more a pleasure to me than I imagined it might be to him. As I continued up his body, his legs felt majestically, strong, yet soft, like redwoods covered in moss. When I reached his belly, I discovered the most unusual sensation of all. His belly jiggled not unlike the “bowl full of jelly” image used to describe Santa Clause. Yet there was another attribute that I discovered a vast vision of blue undulating waves of light that resembled the sight of moonlight upon ocean waves. The water element of his body was fully apparent. I had always been told that our body is composed of 70% seawater and here I was experiencing it directly in his yogic body. I have never forgotten this profound revelation.

The amount of time taken to practice a kapha sequence is longer than for Pitta or Vata. Elongation of the body is promoted by the strength to lift upward against the force of gravity bringing attention to Kapha`s home in the chest region. However, a study physique is created not from stretching, but from toning. The level of practice also develops the cardiological  and immune system. Kapha`s balance is apparent in very healthy individual`s.

By following Patanjali`s guides with this practice, the chest is softened as Kapha is sent to its root home in the chest cavity, which opens and softens the heart. The exhale should be longer than the inhale and occasionally the breath should be released through the mouth with an audible sigh. This will help to open hidden, repressed emotions and to release sadness, lethargy, and attachments to unfulfilled desires, while promoting courage, hopefulness, faithfulness and humility. Ultimately, it will increase Ojas. On the physical level; Ojas represents health and the strength of the immune system; on the spiritual level, it is imbibing the love of God/dess generating the capacity to love and accept all as Divine. A spiritual practice often becomes central to a, evolving Kapha.

More on Yoga For Kapha

For Kapha predominant constitutions-Kapha/ Vata and Kapha/pitta – the priary focus is on purifying the body of excess and weight , so that health is maintained . The deeper level of Kapha practice opens the heart and creates connection to their  chosen form of spirit ( Ista de-Vata) . From this ,Kapha evolves into ojas, producing a luster and glow of spiritual health.

Yoga practices for Kapha strengthens the heart and skeletal muscles , developing good tone, promoting kindness, compassion and open- mindedness . On a therapeutic level, these practices can decrease symptoms of diabetes, asthma , and other repiratory conditions, constipation, and angina. On a psychotherapeutic level, they are used for depressions , attachment, possessiveness , sadness, and for periods of mourning the loss of a loved one.

In order to promote optimal balance of the dual nature of Kapha ( earth and water) , it is crucial to realize that purification is essential for the development of both physical and spiritual virtues. Kapha  needs a systemic movements of water to cleanse cellular tissues and remove obstructions. This  kind of consistent internal cleansing is more important for Kapha doshas than for the other doshas for whom a spring and or fall cleaning is adequate.

Kapha balance promotes both strength and stamina outcome of  a healthy immune system. This in turn promotes the development if the subtle tissue called ojas. It is the essence that is the true sign of health, for longevity is born of Ojas. A very diminutive woman from Russian Latvia, Indra devi was nonetheless a powerhouse of energy, love and service to her thousands of worldwide students. I knew her for over 25 years , before her passing in 2002 just three weeks prior to her 103rd birthday. When She exhibited the true signs of ojas in that she lived her motto of ‘send love and light to everyone’.

Exercise in General

Kapha quality needs to establish regular vigorous exercise that is beneficial for the vital organs of the heart and lungs. Kapha as it evolves will also seek the development of spiritual or heart opening practices that generate feelings of love, joy, and connection to community.

Yoga poses

As Kapha may have sluggish digestion and metabolism when imbalanced, they should perform practices that affect the region of the abdomen to increase digestive fire. The ideal for them is vigorous  exercise done with regular discipline. In the yoga regimen, this should include daily practice of Surya Namaskar . For them, the program should be physically challenging done with effort to develop strong arms, chest , and upper back. The program should include a minimum of 15 min utes of vigorous practice. They may need to work up to this level of fitness if they have not been maintaining a physical discipline.

Poses that are particularly beneficial for them include Shoulderstand( Sarvangasana) , Bridge ( Setubandhasana) , Lion ( Simhasana ) , fish ( matsyasana) , peacock( Mayurasana) and warrior (Virabhadrasana) . The poses that press the upper back and chest should be held to their maximum with a focus upon developing muscular strength in the lower trapezius and latissimus dorsi muscles.

Kapha predominant students should hold their Yoga poses longer than Vata or Pitta predominant types. They need to focus their mind and body on actions that purify them and increase stamina. Long stays in postures can promote both a healthy immune system but also open the physical and spiritual heart.

Along with yoga, they need to exercise throughout the day by walking in nature, working in the garden or swimming . Being in a natural environment is particularly beneficial for Kapha dosha as it helps to maintain their connection with the earth and cycles of nature.

Pranayama

To keep excessive  mucous to a minimum , regularly practice Kapalbhati . Hearing pranayama such as Bhastrika and Surya Bhedana are recommended as well Uddiyana Bandha should be emphasized once they have mastered the basics of pranayama and have a consistent practice. This will help to maintain the strength of the diaphragm and heart muscles.

Purification( Shatkarmas

All the purification practices were created for the Kapha predominant constitutions. Nauli and Agnisar Dhouti are especially helpful in maintaining the metabolism. Water snuffing ( Jala neti ) helps to keep the sinuses sand upper respiratory tract open. These practices can also assist in minimizing Kaphas tendency towards allergies and excess mucous formation.

Mantra and meditation

Mantras that have a devotional connotation are the best for Kapha . Going to group chatting events such as kirtans and bhajans are very uplifting for this heart centered dosha. Once they hace challenged and purified their body , their heart is ready to open wide. Safety is an issue that needs to be addressed , for without the feeling of safety and confidence in their teacher and the practices , Kapha will tend to remain guarded.

 Sadhana

The main spiritual practice for Kapha is devotional practices of Bhakti Yoga. Both a physical Yoga and a devotional practice are necessary for kapha, as one without the other may make them suffer. Devotion without physical discipline will make Kapha stagnate, Then they are likely to put on excessive weight; physical exercise without devotion is just simply hard work, leaving Kapha feeling dry. The downside for those who are more drawn to spiritual practices than physical Hatha Yoga is that health declines. My spiritual teacher, Swami Prakashananda, claimed, “Every guru has heart condition arthritis and diabetes.” For us, it make more sense to be healthy and have some devotion rather than have enormous devotion to others and not pay attention to the rigors of health maintenance.

Ayurveda Yoga Therapy For Kapha

In Yoga`s repertoire we have practices for balancing the kapha qualities thus promoting natural biological functions of the heart, cerebrospinal fluid, lubrication of the joints, mucous membrane, respiration, sensual pleasure, and memory. On the therapeutic level the practices that restore balance will diminish kapha aggravated symptoms such as congestion, colds, asthma, diabetes, bloating during menstruation, and excessive weight gain. The practices of pranayama and meditation can be adapted to address psychological issues of attachment, coldness, spiritual connection to a higher power, improve memory, and to maintain humility to a higher power.

Summary

 The focus for treating Kapha is promoting strength and stamina along with cleansing practices to detoxify the system. The practices should be done with regularity and devotion to develop faith and self-confidence. However, they should not be dry and stoic but rather done with joy and laughter. Yoga is done with a focus upon the strengthening effects during the changes of season; the focus is upon purification practices like water snuffing ( Jala Neti)  and head shining ( Kapalbhati). Poses are held with persistenc, and emphasis is on postures that press the chest and challenge upper body strength. Examples of Kapha practices include the Pavanmukltasana series variation ( described in my Structuiral Yoga Therapy book) done to develop strength and stamina of each muscular movements;the isolation Poses, long Sun Salute series, backbending postures such as fish and camel, and sequences such as Stick and shoulderstand Vinyasas.

Kaphas need to follow their heart more than any of the other doshas. Whatever makes them connect with their laughter, joy and spontaneity is a spiritual path for them. As Joseph Cambell said in giving spiritual advice to his PBS viewers “Follow your Bliss”. This is excellent advice for our Kapha dosha.

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