Hello Kapha!

How to stay balanced and healthy during spring

What is Kapha?

Kapha is the third dosha of Ayurveda. The elements that create kapha are water and earth and that would make Kapha's qualities oily, cold, heavy, slow and dull, smooth, soft and stable. These are the opposite qualities of vata dosha. These are also the qualities that elevate or increase kapha in the body and mind. Kapha is the dosha of structure and form. It is the dosha that binds or brings things together. If you take a look at nature you will see that the earth is soft from the rain and snow. As it begins to thaw we see mud and soft soil which is still cold from the winter, and it's heavy. We might notice that WE also feel heavy from the foods of the vata season. We might feel more lethargic from being indoors most of the past months. There might be a lack of motivation or even some depression from the cold and dark months.

Some of the practices that you might have incorporated during vata season or the late fall and winter, you are going to continue to do, but in a slightly different way. We still want to nourish the skin by doing abhyanga, the self-oil massage, but with different oils and maybe less oil. You might want to continue practicing yoga, but now with a different intention. Your pranayama practice or breathing practice that you might have started will also continue, but with a different intensity. With each season our practices change according to the qualities and how they should be balanced.

Give Yourself some love

The self oil massage is one of the most important aspects of Ayurveda self care. Not only does it nourish the largest organ of the body, the skin, but it also protects, soothes and warms us. During vata season you might have noticed how dry your skin became. You might have felt itchy or seen flaky skin. In kapha season we want to counter act the cold we might be feeling and re-invigorate the body with warming oils. You can find kapha oil blends on sites like the one I have listed. Make sure your oils are organic and good quality. Another good practice for kapha is dry brushing. Since one of the qualities of kapha is oily, dry brushing is a great way to get the circulation moving without applying more oil. You want to use a natural bristle brush and the strokes should be towards the heart starting from the feet, up the legs, up the abdomen, hands, arms, and as much of the back of the body as possible. Using a dry brush on the face might be too rough so I would suggest a chickpea flour or rice flour. These can also be used to remove excess oil after abhyanga.

Yoga for Kapha Season

Ayurveda says to treat kapha like an enemy : (

That just means that kapha somtimes needs more motivation and maybe even a stiff kick in the butt to get a jump start. During kapha season we can all use a little help getting started if we haven't been consistent with some kind of physical exercise. Since yoga and Ayurveda are sister sciences a yoga practice would be a perfect way to get the body moving in a structured way that will build some heat, get the circulation going and fire up the digeston. As I have mentioned before, both yoga and Ayurveda are very individualized, but during kapha seasan everyone can incorporate some aspect of a kapha balancing yoga practice.

Kapha needs more light and bright colors. Maybe put on a nice bright shirt or have a visual that is bright and cheery. Looking out the window on a nice sunny day would be great. Specific colors are bright pink, yellow and orange. Patterns are also a good idea. You want a warm room since one of the kapha qualites is cold. If you are choosing to use music, faster paced music that is fun and up tempo would be preferable. Maybe change up your practice a bit since kapha needs variety so they don't get stuck in a rut. Your class could start on the floor and slowly build to bring up the heat and the pace of your practice so as to increase the breath. You want to keep the heat consistent so keep moving! It does not have to be so intense or advanced to keep the heat up. Just keep moving at a good pace to be consistently heating. Standing poses are good for this. Add in some twisting poses and big back bends, side bends and keep opening the chest since the seat of kapha dosha is refered to as the chest and lungs. Remember the intention is to just build heat and not to make the class to vigorous.

Pranayama for Kapha

Kapha needs warmth and some get up and go! Kapalabhati is a great breathing practice to warm the body and bring clarity to the mind. In fact kapalabhati is called the skull shining breath. It cleanses the respiratory passages and warms and tones the abdominal muscles. It also helps to improve circulation which is great for this time of year. Here is how you go about practicing kapalabhati pranayama:

Sit in a comfortable position. On the floor or in chair. If you are sitting in a chair you want the feet touching the floor and your back upright against the back of the chair. If you are sitting on the floor you can sit on a cushion or rolled blanket or pillow with the legs crossed. Support the knees with extra blankets if necessary. Rest your hands on your knees or thighs and close your eyes. Begin to tune into your breath by just being aware of your inhale and exhale. Take a few breaths to begin. Kapalabhati feels like a sharp exhale as if you coughed or sneezed. So take a long breath in and exhale quickly through your nose. You will feel your abdomen quickly retract. That is one kaplabhati breath. You are going to begin with 10 breaths. See how you feel and continue with 2 more rounds of kapalabhati. Begin the one long inhale. Exhale completely. Take another breath in about half way and begin to make short, strong exhales through your nose 10 times. When you finish take a few relaxed breaths and begin again.

This breath takes some getting use to. Some people find it difficult to allow the belly to draw in on an exhale, but that is actually what it is supposed to do! If you watch a baby or an animal breath you will notice that there abdomens contract on the exhale. So, don't give up on the first try. Keep trying and reap the benefits of kapalabhati pranayama.

Meditation for Kapha

So Hum Meditation is great for all doshas. It is soothing and calming and fairly easy to practice. Start by sitting in a comfortable position. You can sit on the floor with the legs crossed, seated on a pillow or cushion or in a chair with the feet resting on the floor and the back supported. Begin by taking in a few normal breaths. Notice the movement of the rib cage and the lift of your chest on the in breath and a closing of the ribs and slight sinking of the chest on your out breath. Now begin to list to your breath. Notice the gentle sound your breath makes. As you tune in more and more you begin to actually hear the So, on the in breath and Hum on the out breath. Concentrate on hearing So as you breath in and Hum as you breath out. Mentally chanting So Hum will allow you to stay focused on your breath and bringing calmness and lightness to your day.

Aromatherapy for Kapha

Kapha time of year, Spring, is a time of rejuvenation. We need that extra stimulation to get us going. Aromas like rosemary and eucalyptus are great for kapha. As well as mint and clove.

Foods for Kapha

Now is when we shift our diets to lighter fare. You might notice the different greens that are showing up at your local grocery store. There are dandelion greens, mustard greens, arugula, cabbage and cauliflower. These foods have a bitter taste and that is the taste most prominent in spring along with pungent and astringent. For the pungent taste ginger is you best friend. Try grating some ginger on your steamed veggies or in your soup. You can also use a little cayenne pepper or some chillies. This is also a great season for garlic and onion as they are both pungent. For your astringent taste cook up some legumes! Most beans and legumes are astringent so you can try some black bean soup or a white bean soup.

Foods to avoid are heavy and oily. You want to have less dairy, stay away from processed foods and fried foods. So the tastes you are trying to avoid are sweet, sour and salty which are very high in processed foods. The bitter, pungent and astringent foods will help the body rid itself of the excess fat from winter and prepare the gut for the lighter foods of summer. For more detailed information on ayurveda and spring check out Banyan Botanicals spring guide below.

Happy Spring!

Ayurveda's Spring Cleanse

Sunday, March 20th, 3-5pm

Asali Yoga

Spring is coming! The change of the season is when we really need to tune into the changes of the earth and the changes in ourselves. The air is changing, and what we eat begins to change. First we need to cleanse the body of the previous season and Ayurveda tells us how. Come see how and why we do this and help your body stay balanced through Spring.


The cook and owner of The Positive Kitchen, Radhika Hira started her journey with food, cooking and yoga long before she even realized it. Born and raised in Pune, India, she grew up surrounded by yogic philosophy as the town is home to Yogacharya BKS Iyengar. Her family and particularly her grandmother were her first teachers of the the sister philosophy of Ayurvdeda - a science that is thousands of years old and strongly advocates the healing properties of food and how they influence our mind-body equilibrium.

Radhika moved to New York almost 15 years ago and intuitively realized that she needed to find a balance between her knowledge from this ancient culture and the fast pace and modern culture that was her reality now.

She reintroduced herself to a consistent yoga practice and to learning all she could about food.

Along the way the dozens of recommendations and facts about food that constantly surround us were confusing and contradictory and served as a pathway to bring her back to Ayurveda - a food science that offers structure and easy tools that respect the uniqueness within each of us and allow you to eat for you and no one else.

Today she is a certified RYT 200 teacher and passionate about always learning about food, cooking and being a steward of the earth with her every choice.

In anything we venture to do, the combination of theory and practical are undeniable. At this spring workshop we would like to combine the theory and the practical applications of Ayurveda as well.

As Kendra helps you understand Spring and the changes you need to make, Radhika will feed you a meal cooked true to Ayurvedic principles that will help support and transition your body to spring.


Menu:

Snack

During the 3-5 or as they enter?

Ginger tea and spiced apples with raw honey

Salad

Black chana salad

Main course

Red lentil daal soup with neem and ginger cooked in coconut oil or ghee served with with Basmati rice cooked with whole garam masala

Vegetables

Roasted potatoes with fenugreek - the potatoes give the required density or creaminess the meal will need but since they will be roasted, they retain the dry and light qualities we want in the meal.

Green beans and carrots - a light and very flavorful combination

Dessert

Amaranth shira with raisins and soaked almonds - lightly sweetened with turbinado or cane sugar

RSVPs are enabled for this event.