Yoga is for everyone!
You may remember seeing this picture in a previous post about Ayurveda and the Seasons on Vata. If you look at the chart again, you will see that Vata season will begin to transition into the Kapha season somewhere at the end of February.
You probably remember that all three doshas are present in us - Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, however some of us usually have one dominant (sometimes two doshas are about equal in dominance, and very rarely you will see a person with all three represented equally, the tri-dosha type).
Let's look at Kapha. Kapha's characteristics are heavy, oily, and cold. Kapha and Vata share that last one. Kapha types are made of stockier, denser bone and flesh. They can be short or quite tall, but more of a Swedish, northern type - big boned, placid, slow-moving, slow-talking. They usually have beautiful pale skin, large, white teeth, luminous eyes, and easy-going, loving nature. When Kaphas are in a state of balance, they are like Mother Earth, exude quiet contentment and become a refuge to the exhausted Vatas and burned-out Pittas. Kaphas are not easily moved into any new state - when they are balanced, they tend to stay that way, but when Kapha dosha becomes aggravated, the recovery can be very slow for them.
Signs of Kapha aggravation are heaviness and stagnation: congestion, edema, weight gain, phlegm, hardness of tissues, itching/allergies, indigestion, the skin becomes cold and clammy, and the person is overcome by listlessness, depression, excessive sleep, and emotional attachment/clinging. Many people experience these symptoms in the late winter-early spring, even if their dominant dosha is not Kapha, but Kaphas would be particularly vulnerable.
You may observe that mother Nature itself is in a Kapha phase from late winter through mid-spring, when everything is heavy, soggy, cold, and muddy.
In Ayurveda we learn that like increases like, and the opposite is what we need to seek for greater balance. A Kapha person in a state of imbalance would be drawn to things that would drive them deeper into it, such as ice-cream and a good cry watching re-runs of their favorite dramas on TV. To steer themselves out of the deep melancholy, sadness and twilight, they need things that are stimulating, drying, clearing, and lightening. These therapies need to be applied with discipline, rigor, and emotional detachment.
The diet needs to include pungent, bitter and astringent tastes, food that is warm, light, and dry. Kaphas should avoid foods that are cold, heavy, and oily, because they would only make congestion worse. So, in a nutshell, eating less overall and seasoning the food with warming spices and herbs, such as basil, black pepper, cardamom, cayenne, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, fenugreek, ginger, horseradish, mustard, paprika, turmeric. Pretty much all spices and herbs are good, except excess salt, as it retains water. Making spice teas is best, as Kaphas should avoid drinking cold/iced water.
It is not an accident that many cultures of the world observe fasting at the end of winter! For Vatas, who are often too thin anyway, fasting may not be appropriate, but Pittas, who love to eat, and especially Kaphas, who put on weight easily, a lighter diet may be appropriate. Our Western diet, with its overabundance of sugar, ice cream, ice water, soft drinks, carbohydrates, deep fried foods and meat increases Kapha.
As far as exercise, Kaphas benefit the most from vigorous, sustained, and aerobic variety. They actually possess a lot of stamina and do well with physical labor and can work harder and longer than most people. Vatas would fatigue out first, Pitta would burn out second, while Kapha, with its steady and slow pace, would be the turtle that wins the race. To shake off lethargy Kaphas benefit from travel, new projects, learning a new hobby (they tend to stagnate with old, familiar things).
For Yoga practice,energizing, heating practices and mild inversions (to remove excess phlegm and mucus and boost immunity during the allergy season) are indicated. Sun Salutations, or Surya Namaskar, would be very much appropriate for Kaphas, so check out my guide to that essential Yoga practice below.
For pranayama for Kapha dosha, refer to another Youtube video:
Here is to spring!