The Balance of the Kapha Dosha

Discovering what Kapha can look like in and out of balance and how to support your personal balance

What does the Kapha Dosha look like in and out of balance?

Like increases like. Opposite qualities bring balance.

What nurtures the Kapha dosha?

Those that identify with a predominant Kapha Dosha receive the most energy from the elements of fire, air, and space.  They find comfort and support in things that are dry, warm, stimulating, light.  Tastes that allow Kapha to feel optimal are those that are pungent, bitter, and astringent.  Because like increases like, Kaphas will naturally be attracted to those qualities that tip them out of balance.  Kapha is typically slower, cool, and heavy so we need to balance with the opposite… movement/activity, dryness, lightness.  Moderate and consistent exercise is extremely important to keep kapha in balance.

What does it look like when Kapha is in balance? 

When in balance, one with a Kapha constitution is solid and stable. They are strong, loyal, nurturing, calm, and consistent. They are the determined individual who gets things done.

What does it look like when Kapha is out of balance? 

When out of balance, Kapha Dosha Types will experience…

  • Excessive desire to sleep
  • Overeating or loss of appetite
  • Inertia
  • Water retention
  • Dull pain and dull in the mind
  • No motivation to be physically active
  • Excess mucus and salivation that can include sticky phlegm, wet cough, thick white discharges
  • Feelings of coldness, heaviness, stagnation
  • Congestion
  • Constipation
  • Sluggish Digestion
  • Depression

If Kapha is out of balance then this may manifest in depression, heart problems, diabetes, high cholesterol or in being overweight.  Too little Kapha and there will be signs of Vata increase such as cracking joints, dryness, dizziness, and weight loss.  Kapha problems, such as sinus congestion and allergies, often develop in childhood, a time of growth.  Kapha’s inherent role in the storing of energy can mean that on an emotional level, kapha people have a tendency to hold on to relationships and material objects that may not serve them. 

What can get Kapha out of balance?  

Kapha can be knocked out of balance by the excessive intake of the flavors of sweet, salty, or sour as they increase moisture.  They typically struggle to find energy during the morning (7-11am) and evening (7-11pm).  Lack of movement and absence of time in nature can tip the scales negatively for the Kapha.  Other things that can be a factor in the off balance of the Kapha Dosha are…

  • Winter weather with lack of sunshine or a cold, damp climate
  • Cold, heavy,  and bland diet
  • Sleeping in too late/ staying up too late
  • Too much sitting (computer, driving, screens)
  • Isolation or not enough time with friends 
  • Doing too much for others

Maintaining Balance as a Kapha 

What can you do to help get your Kapha back into balance?

Again because “like increase like” there is a natural tendency for kapha types to be attracted to the qualities that tip them out of balance. As kapha is slow, damp, and heavy, it is best balanced with the opposite: movement and activity, dryness, lightness.

Kapha Balancing Diet 

Tips for Kapha Dosha Types or those experiencing a kapha imbalance (sinus congestion, thick tongue coating, paleness, high cholesterol, edema)

In general, some diet tips that have been helpful for Kapha include…

  • Eat only when you are hungry and not between meals. Try not to snack or eat anything after dinner.
  • Try to get at least 10,000 steps a day.  Movement is key to help move digestion along but it doesn’t need to be strenuous. 
  • Watch portions and avoid overeating, especially at nights
  • Favor...
    Foods that are light, dry, or warm
    Foods that are spicy, bitter, or astringent
    Try to include ginger in your daily diet
  • Reduce…
    Foods that are heavy, oily, or cold
    Foods that are sweet, salty, or sour
  • Avoid…
    Raw or refrigerated foods
    Yeast, salt, cheese, yogurt, chocolate, refined sugars, and flour

Focus on tastes that are balanced to Kapha.  These would include…

  • Light, hot, rough, and dry
  • Foods like…

Spicy; hot like chilies, radishes, turnips, raw onions, spices
If you like spicy, fiery go for it!
If not, favor milder spices like cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, cumin, ginger, garlic, paprika, turmeric

  • These types of foods will…

Cleanse the mouth and clarify the senses
Stimulates digestion
Liquefies secretions and encourages sweating
Clears channels of the body and helps to thin blood

  • Rough, drying, light, cold
  • Foods like…

Bitter greens (kale, dandelion greens, collard greens, etc.), bitter melons, jerusalem artichokes, burdock root, eggplant, dark chocolate, cumin, neem leaves, saffron, turmeric

  • These types of foods will…

Cleanses pallet and improves sense of taste
Tones skin and muscles
Improves appetite, support digestion
Absorbs moisture

  • The flavor of dryness - chalky taste that dries out the math and makes it feel as though it will contract
  • Dry, rough, somewhat light, cold
  • Foods like…

Legumes like adzuki beans, black-eyed peas, chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils, pinto beans, and soybeans 
Apples, cranberries, pomegranate, artichokes, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, popcorn, rice cakes, crackers, basil, coriander, dill, fennel, parsley, and turmeric

  • It’s best to add warming herbs and spices to astringent foods to help decrease excess moisture in the body.  
  • These types of foods will…

Compress and absorb the excess fluid in the body
Tone bodily tissues

Minimize your intake of the following tastes:

  • This taste tends to be cold, heavy, moist, oily; all attributes that increase moisture in your body.
  • It would be impossible to eat a nutritious diet and avoid the sweet taste altogether. But it is certainly reasonable to reduce the portions of naturally sweet-tasting foods like fruits, grains, root vegetables, milk, ghee, yogurt, eggs, nuts, seeds, oils, and meats.
  • Sweet foods tend to aggravate kapha’s tendency toward heaviness, obesity, lethargy, and excess sleep. They can also cause excessive mucus, aggravate colds and coughs, and depress the appetite in an unhealthy way.
  • Minimize sour foods like vinegar, cheese, sour cream, green grapes, oranges, pineapple, and grapefruit.
  • These foods tend to also be made of moistening and oily qualities that aggravate kapha.
  • The sour taste can increase thirst, create heaviness in the eyes, cause laxity in the body, and aggravate water retention or swelling.
  • An occasional squeeze of lemon or lime juice is the best way for kapha to ingest the sour taste.
  • Much like the sour taste, it is salt’s moist and oily nature that aggravates kapha.
  • In excess, the salty taste can cause water retention, high blood pressure, intestinal inflammation, gray hair, wrinkles, excess thirst, and it can impede the sense organs. 
  • It tends to spark a sharp desire for stronger flavors and can similarly trigger insatiability and greed.

Kapha Balancing Foods

When you’re feeling as though you’re out of balance, food and nutrition is a very great first step to help getting things back on track.  When it comes to your meals, favor those items that are…

  • Warm over Cold
  • Light and Airy over dense and heavy
  • Dry over most and oily
  • Rough over smooth
  • Drying/warming options that include millet, corn, buckwheat, quinoa, and rye.
  • Most are fine!  
  • Avoid tofu as it is cold and hard to digest. Split mung beans are best.
  • Eggplant, beet, broccoli, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, celery, green leaves, kale, potato, pumpkin, allums, brussels sprouts, seaweeds
  • Try to reduce your intake of the following as they only increase the amount of fluid in your body… 

avocado, olives, tomato, cucumber sweet potato, summer squash

  • Apples and pears are best, especially if baked or stewed 
  • Reduce heavy, sweet, and sour fruits like banana, orange, pineapple, figs, date, coconut, and all types of melon (they tend to increase congestion)
  • Try to avoid as they are oily and will only increase the sluggish feelings
  • Pumpkin and sunflower seeds are light enough, so those can be eaten
  • White meat such as chicken, turkey, fish are great options 
  • Pork, beef, and other red meats are too heavy for Kapha and create congestion 
  • Goat milk is best; drink warm for easy digestion
  • Cow’s milk can be used when diluted with water

Tip: Boil the milk first with spices like cardamom or ginger to help reduce any mucus-generating properties; drink warm

  • Try to avoid eggs, cheese, yogurt, buttermilk
  • Reduce all oils as much as possible 
  • Ghee is the best option
Herbs & Spices
  • Herbs and spices are all great - especially ginger!
  • Try to avoid salt as it will increase the rate of water retention

Kapha Balancing Beverages

Kapha can really benefit by drinking hot or warm water as well as spicy teas.  These types of drinks will help to clear mucus from the stomach and lungs.  Look for beverages that include spices and herbs such as ginger, black pepper, or trikatu or warming tonics that include ashwagandha, cinnamon, and chyawanprash.

Kapha Balancing Practices

To balance some of this dosha’s tendency to “hold on” kapha types can try to let go of more in life, increase the amount of movement they do on a daily basis, undertake more stimulating activities, share their thoughts and feelings more, and clear out their cupboards more regularly. 

Physical Activity to help Balance Kapha

Ayurveda has the view that people should practice stimulating exercise up to the point of producing a mild sweat and not beyond. Exercices only for as long as you can comfortably breathe through our nostrils.  Listen to yourself and your body and choose something appropriate for yourself.  Don’t overdo any repetitive exercises that will stress one specific part of the body excessively. 

Make sure that your exercise routine is fun, vigorous, and stimulating - Kapha thrives on activities like walking, hiking, dancing (think Zoomba!), running, cycling, skipping, trampolining, hula-hooping, and high intensity interval training. Practice Kapha-pacifying yoga or a handful of invigorating Sun Salutations each morning.

Kapha can also benefit from sauna sessions to rid the body of toxins and excess moisture via the heat and sweat.  After a sauna, or before a shower, it’s recommended that you massage light, dry oils into the skin to help relax the muscles and loosen tension. 

Mental and Emotional Practices to help Balance Kapha

Kapha’s tend to be strong and silent - they’re the ones that you’re going to want by your side during a tough time.  With that stability and nurturing presence, they can tend to keep their own emotions and energy to themselves.  By giving in and sharing thoughts, feelings, emotions, and troubles, they can feel immense relief immediately.

Undertake more stimulating activities that will help your physical as well as mental space.  Clear out your spaces and remove things that do not serve a purpose or bring joy as this will help calm your mind as well as your space.

Sense Therapies for Balancing Kapha

Don’t forget your other senses!  The power of sound, sight, and smell can help to rebalance your mind and body. Kapha’s tend to get back in balance when experiencing the following sensations:


Stimulating, uplifting chanting or rhythms
Sounds in nature that are loud like a thunder storm, strong winds and a rough ocean


Nature: Deserts, fields, fast moving water
Stimulating colors: Red, bright orange, and yellow


Stimulating aromas: eucalyptus, camphor, orange, basil, thyme

Learn more about the Kapha Dosha

Learn more about...

The Kapha Dosha Profile

The Kapha Seasonal Guide

Ayurvedic Seasonal Food List

Ayurvedic Morning Routine

What is Kapha season? Ayurvedic Spring Guide

Tips for Winter to Spring Seasonal Eating in Ayurveda

Kapha Support and Tools