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"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."

- Winston Churchill, British PM

Understanding Kapha Dosha

By Deepa Apté on 20 November 2013

Following from the last two issues, I would like to write in detail about Kapha in this issue. The Dosha Kapha is the last of the three Doshas in Ayurveda.

Going back to the five elements, they are:
* Space
*  Air
*  Fire
*  Water
*  Earth

And as we already know, these five elements combine with each other to give rise to three bio-physical forces (or Doshas)
* Space + Air = Vata
* Fire + Water = Pitta
* Water + Earth = Kapha

Let us now see how Kapha is created/formed and how this bio physical force reflects in our daily activities and functions of the body.
Water and earth elements which are the last two elements and the heaviest of the five elements combine to give rise to the bio physical force Kapha. When one observes, any tissue or function that relates to either water or earth elements in turn becomes the function of the Kapha Dosha

* Kapha is the heaviest Dosha in the body.
* The presence of water makes it gentle, flowing and flexible
* The presence of earth makes it stable, heavy and non movable
* Due to the non presence of fire, Kapha Dosha is cold
* Kapha reflects the qualities of being cold, wet, oily and stable.
* It increases the quality of patience in a human being.
* Kapha Dosha also reflects endurance in the body and mind

vata pitta kapha figuresBecause of the presence of water in Kapha , any functions or systems relating to water or fluid in the body becomes a Kapha Dosha function.
As we already know, the circulation or movement of the blood is governed by vata due to air element. The red blood cells are a function of Pitta Dosha. But when we separate the red blood cells, what remains as plasma is a part of Kapha Dosha. This plasma gives the fluid function to the blood. Hence plasma is a part of Kapha Doha.
Immune system:
When observed the plasma also contains further cells like the white blood cells and platelets or thrombocytes. These cells work towards the defense system of the body by fighting infections etc. Hence the immune system of the body is a big responsibility of Kapha Dosha function.

Other fluids:
* Not only the plasma but all other fluid in the body are a part of Kapha Dosha.
* Fluids in the abdomen in which the abdominal organs float: peritoneal fluid
* Fluid around the heart: pericardial fluid
* Fluid around the lungs: pleural fluid
* Fluid around the brain and spinal cord: cerebrospinal fluid
* Fluid around the joints: synovial fluid

water in human body
All these fluids first of all protect these organs in the body. Therefore protection of any kind, be it physical protection or chemical protection, these are Kapha Dosha functions.

Nutrition and nourishment:
Through these fluids that are surrounding the organs and systems, Kapha also provides nourishment to these organs.
Lymphatic system:
The lymphatic system along with the lymph nodes and glands is also a big part of Kapha Dosha, as this system also works towards the defence system of the body.

Sensory functions:
* Taste
* Smell
Taste: One would notice that as soon as one puts any food in the mouth, saliva is being produced. It is believed that anything that is too dry cannot be tasted. Some liquid is needed to coat it to be able to taste the food. Therefore one requires liquid or water to taste any food. Hence taste is a Kapha Dosha function
Smell: Likewise, anything that is too dry cannot be smelt. Very dry rock, stone or very dry sand cannot be smelt. But when some sprinkles some drops of water on it, the aroma that rises up is what we smell. Therefore even for smell, one requires water or liquid.

Fat and Muscles:
Through the presence of earth element, anything that is mass or material becomes a Kapha Dosha function. Therefore the bulk of the body is due to Kapha. Also Kapha give structure ad shape to the body and mind.
* Fat and muscles are Kapha Dosha elements. They give structure, shape and weight to the body.
* Both fat and muscles also work towards the physical defence of the body.
* They help in protecting the body from weather changes, physical injuries etc.

Growth, nutrition and nourishment:
Together water and earth are responsible for growth and nutrition of the body. Once the seed has been sowed into the earth, the regular watering is what helps the seed to turn into a plant.

Reproductive tissue and organs:
The reproductive system is also a part of the Kapha Dosha as it forms a part of growth, nutrition and progeny.

Organs of the body:
All wet soggy and spongy organs are Kapha Dosha organs from an anatomical point of view. The heart and lungs are very wet organs. So is the brain. Therefore all these organs become Kapha tissues.

The important qualities of Kapha are as follows:
* Heaviness: Deep voice, tendency towards obesity, large and heavy body, bones and muscles.
* Coolness: Cold skin, tendency towards attacks of cold, slow metabolism leading to reduced appetite and thirst.
* Softness: soft skin and hair and tendency toward soft tender nails. Loving, caring and kind attitude.
* Oiliness: Oily body including skin, hair, nails, stools. Flexible and mobile joints.
* Sweetness: Tendency towards excess intake of sweet foods and drinks. Good anabolic state of the body.
* Sweetness: Tendency towards excess intake of sweet foods and drinks. Good anabolic state of the body.
* Stability: Patient and relaxed attitude. Firm decisions. Likes sedentary activities like reading, watching television etc.
* Sliminess:  Excess salivation, thick slimy secretion when suffering from a cold. Thick joints with good mobility.

Some of the bodily functions ruled by Kapha Dosha due to the presence of water and earth elements are:
* strength
* maintenance of health
* maintenance of the joint functions (synovial fluid)
* smell
* taste
* anabolism and growth
* potency
* stability
* nutrition
* absorption
* immunity
* satisfaction
* tolerance

Dr Deepa Apté is a fully qualified Indian medical doctor (Bachelor of Medicine; Bachelor of Surgery, India), a qualified Yoga teacher and an experienced Ayurvedic practitioner. She lectures widely on Ayurveda and Yoga (both in the UK and Germany) and regularly has articles published in the press. After having run successful practices in India and Germany, she now runs her practice from London. She also teaches courses to trained therapists on various treatment techniques in Ayurveda.

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About the author

Deepa Apté

Ayurvedic practitioner, Medical doctor, Yoga instructor

Dr Deepa Apté MBBS (India), YLA, BYV, ITEC, MICHT is a fully qualified Indian medical doctor (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery, India), a qualified Yoga teacher (specialising in Hatha Yoga…  Read full bio