The third dosha is Kapha dosha. It is the most benevolent of all dosha, as it causes minimum and mild damage to the body compared to vata and pitta dosha. That is why it is the third and the last dosha.
The Sanskrit word Kapha means "to increase, fructify or to grow.” Kapha is the metabolic pattern related to anabolism (building up the process) in the body. It is the system that maintains all the water and earth-related functions. For example, kapha maintains the tissue fluids, mucus, lymph, etc. in the body.
What is kapha made of?
Kapha dosha is made of water and earth element. Naturally, it is the cool, moist, and nourishing biophysical energy in the body. Vata dosha maintains the movement, pitta controls the transformation, but these doshas cannot work without a base. And the kapha dosha maintains the material base for all action and heat inside the body. Without kapha, it's all energy, no matter what to work on.
Qualities of Kapha
Kapha is the nourishing factor in the body. Therefore, it has a distinct set of properties that offer cumulative support to the repair, rejuvenation, and growth of the body.
The seven main properties of kapha are –
Moisture is the most important property of kapha dosha. Its entire functioning is based on the moisture in the body. Moisture is the medium for nutritional transport to all parts of the body. Each cell of the body survives inside a nourishing and protecting tissue liquid. Without essential moisture content, all the tissues of the body will undergo rapid deterioration (vata excess) or inflammation (pitta excess).
Moisture protects all the vital organs like the brain, heart, lungs, etc. Kapha element forms and maintain a protective lining around all important organs and cavities.
Born from water and earth elements, kapha brings coolness to the body. The mucus content in the body helps to balance the temperature in a big way. In case of excess heat, the mucus melts to absorb the heat. Sometimes, this may lead to a running nose or a loose motion.
Conversely, mucus releases heat and solidifies in a cold environment. This mucus density also provides a cover against the external cold. Therefore, pitta may be the biophysical energy related to heat production, but kapha dosha is the factor that balances heat in the body.
This cool kapha helps to balance the strong digestive secretions. But if there is too much mucus compared to the digestive juices, then it may lead to indigestion (pitta deficiency).
Kapha represents the mass or matter which is the subject of motion(vata) or transformation (pitta). It brings compactness that creates weight or mass.
This is the reason people with kapha dominant body type gain weight very easily. However, they may have a hard time trying to lose weight because of an inherent tendency to retain heaviness.
This heaviness balances the lightness of vata and pitta dosha. In normal conditions, kapha is the basis for weight, strength, muscle mass, etc. in the body. Conversely, in abnormal conditions, this heaviness of kapha dosha can result in tumor or knot formation in the body. Also, the heaviness after a meal is a result of abnormal kapha.
The slowness balances vata hyperactivity. Kapha slowness and vata speed balance each other to optimize the rate of various metabolic functions. This quality also retards the rate of cellular deterioration, aging, and other catabolic activities.
Conversely, when the slow kapha dosha is in deficiency, large-scale deterioration and inflammation may set in the body. A slow metabolic rate also allows for better growth and development.
Sliminess is one of the most important kapha properties. It lubricates all movement inside the body. The slimy mucus lines all the major tracts and cavities inside the body. It facilitates the peristaltic movement in the digestive tract. It lubricates the motion of bones, tendons, and ligaments inside the joints, and so on. This slime or mucus is the medium for all kinds of transportation or movement inside the body.
It also helps to balance vata roughness and pitta sharpness. The digestive acid can burn the stomach lining in absence of food. The slimy layer on the stomach walls protects it from inflammation. Conversely, if this slimy lining is missing or weak, one may get stomach ulcers.
Excess kapha activity leads to excess slime production, like in the case of a runny nose.
Stickiness also comes from the kapha metabolic pattern. Kapha stickiness is found in all body fluids. This stickiness helps the mucus to form a stable protective lining over all the body parts. Therefore, stickiness, along with kapha sliminess, also segregates cells, tissues, and other body parts.
However, excessive stickiness may result in symptoms like a stuffy nose, or plaque formation in the blood vessels. This stickiness, along with kapha heaviness, helps in the unnatural condensation of oxalates to form stones in the kidney, or gall bladder.
Stability is one of the most important kapha functions because both vata and pitta cause change. Therefore, kapha metabolism brings the inertia or immobility required for an increase in mass.
This stability of kapha is the reason for muscular strength, stamina, and optimal rate of metabolism. It ensures that vata mobility and pitta burning influence are balanced.
Stability strengthens the metabolic rhythm and prevents disorders. It retards the process of cellular damage and death. In absence of a stable and nourishing kapha dosha, the unbalanced action of vata and pitta may create havoc. It will cause rapid drying up and burning down of the body tissues.
Kapha dosha is the ground for our metabolism. It is the biophysical energy that produces and sustains the body. Kapha balances the functions of the other two dosha – vata and pitta.
However, when in excess or a state of imbalance, kapha may lead to obstructions in natural metabolism. This blog covered the basics about kapha dosha. I hope that this basic information helps to kindle your interest in Ayurveda.
In the next blog, let us talk about the body type or the prakrati of an individual.