Kapha Dosha Cycles

Doshas ebb and flow through different cycles - daily, yearly, and throughout life.

The Cycles of Kapha

Doshas ebb and flow through different cycles of the day, the year, and life.  Each dosha needs to go through the cycles of accumulation (the qualities of your primary doshas naturally increases), aggravation (hits it peak), and alleviation (decreases and comes back down to your natural doshic baseline).  The onset and pattern of disease is a product of a dosha that is not brought into the alleviation cycle/phase and is left in aggravation too long. The following times of day, year, and life is where each dosha needs to be nurtured and nourished to balance when it’s in a heightened state. 

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Kapha Lifetime Cycles 

Birth to Puberty

The first stage of life (birth, childhood, youth) is supported by and infused with increased elements of the Kapha dosha - water and earth.  This period of time in most people’s lives is marked by resilience and thriving on structure and routine.  Your childhood is full of rapid growth where you accumulate body mass and build new tissue (physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, etc.).  This time in our lives is all about building, nourishing our nature, and provides fuel for our mind and bodies - think of that layer of “baby fat”.  During that period of life, most seem to crave sweet and grounding foods - whole grains, legumes, root vegetables, and milk.  The Kapha imbalances during this cycle present as congestion, coughs, runny noses, frequent colds, and excess mucus.

Kapha Yearly and Seasonal Cycles

Late Winter and Early Spring

Deep winter is cold and dry where as late winter is cold and wet.  Early spring is cool and wet (depending on your climate - it’s the coldest and wettest time of year).

Late winter and early spring are considered Kapha Season and are when most difficulties can arise. During this transitional period of seasons, the Kapha person can feel extremely lethargic and sluggish.  Kapha’s need to ensure that they’re ready for this time of year by making a commitment to lighten up their diet and be physically active during this time to help keep themselves in balance. 

Kapha’s like to be validated by their efforts by seeing immediate results so activities like gardening,cooking, spring and fall cleaning, and redecorating are all suited to the Kapha temperament.  Exercises that Kaphas thrive in are swimming, walking, jogging, quick moving yoga and cycling. Anything that moves the body of the Kapha person is good, but they tend to really enjoy the things that make them feel lighter like walking, swimming, quick moving yoga etc. versus weight lifting, resistance training, etc. 

Kapha Daily Cycles

An hour before the sun rise to mid morning (6 am - 10 am)

It’s important to keep the three As in mind when thinking of the daily cycles - accumulation, aggravation, and alleviation.  You’re starting to accumulate immediately upon rising, you get into a period of aggravation in the middle of the day, and then in the evening, you’re looking to enter into the alleviation period so you can rest.  If you’re off your routine or cycle one day, it’s not the end of the world.  However, if you’re remaining in any of those states for too long, that’s when your body and mind will start to transition into disease. 

Kapha’s tend to need to do more work than the other doshas to get into the alleviation phase as it doesn’t come as naturally from a weight standpoint.  Kaphas easily accumulate heaviness, water, and earth all which lead to excess weight gain.  By letting go of more stress and worry and working to balance the excess earth and water by letting in more air, fire, and ether, a Kapha can live a more balanced life.

Optimal Daily Moments

It’s not what you do every now and then that matters.  It’s what you do most days that matters.

Kapha types have the optimum energy and digestion during the period of 6 am to 10 am and then again from 6 pm to 10 pm.  The most ideal and peace filled day for Kapha begins with an early morning shower, meditation, and physical movement.  The first meal of the day might consist of herbal tea, accompanied with a light meal if you need. Sometimes kaphas can skip breakfast.  Kaphas largest meal of the day would be a balanced lunch followed by a brief, brisk walk will ensure that the Kapha digestive fire stays strong and helps to build energy for the rest of the afternoon.  A simple, light dinner as close to six o'clock is suggested so that the digestive process doesn’t hinder the sleep and rest period. 

The best way to get thorough those ‘danger’ times of the day is for Kapha’s to have a committed schedule or routine of work, classes, etc to help them stay focused.  The classic phrase “Early to bed, early to rise” is the perfect rule of thumb for a Kapha to follow as this type of constitution tends to need more sleep than others to ensure that refreshed feeling in the morning.  

Ideal Daily Routine for the Kapha Constitution 

6 am - 10 am - Aggravation
Rise promptly upon awakening, ideally before the sun rises

  • Engage in vital activities such as…

Stretch immediately at your bed (just a quick session will do!) to help get the blood flowing to your tissues

  • Pranayama - breathing exercises 

Tongue Scraping to remove toxins that have built up over night

  • This activates perastolosis!

Use the bathroom - Kaphas should try to eliminate first thing in the morning; you should never eat until you have made your morning elimination - it’s the natural cycle of digestion; there’s a lot of toxins that are being moved into our gastrointestinal canal during the night time, so it’s important to get rid of that build up immediately upon waking

  • Kaphas tend to be constipated, so a foot stool can help to get the body into the optimal position for an easy, comfortable elimination 
  • If you’re not used to eliminating first thing in the morning just yet, hold off on the oil pulling until you eliminate, you don’t want your digestive system to do more than one thing at a time
  • Might take several days to train your body to go in the morning
  • Warm lemon water to help get things moving if you have troubles with this morning elimination 
  • If unable to have a successful elimination, you should not eat and try to hold off until lunch. If you feel like you need to eat during that time period, try fruits that will aid in elimination. 

Oil Pulling - strengthens and hydrates the tissues of the mouth and gums

  • Once you have trained our body to go in the morning, 
  • This doesn’t have to be a daily routine; should only be daily if there is an oral issue like gingavitatis, halitosis, etc.  It can be done as needed during the week otherwise. 

Perform abhyanga with a grounding herb infused body oil

  • This doesn’t have to be a daily routine, add in as needed during the week depending on where you’re at.
  • Aids in Kapha dryness and move the lymphatic system 

Neti Pot and/or Nasya Oil to keep your nasal passages lubricated and clear 

  • This doesn’t have to be a daily routine, add in as needed during the week depending on where you’re at.
  • Especially helpful in the Kapha time of year and when experiencing trouble with allergies.

A warm shower

30 minutes of physical activity - think yoga, pilates, a jog, or brisk outside walk

  • Pranayama - breathing exercises 
  • Kapha’s can sometimes feel a little lathargic and unmotivated, so a couple of minutes of kapalbhati breathing exercises (Sometimes known as Fire Breathing - is there a video we could add to this?) will help “charge” your body for the physical exercise.  This breathing exercise can also help ease feelings of depression. 

Before 9 am

  • Consume a light breakfast and take your time with eating

10 am - 2 pm - Alleviation

  • Engage in normal work activities of the day
  • Consume a hearty mid-day meal

Focus on eating and unplug again! Kapha’s tend to over eat and stuff themselves.  So while you want this to be your largest meal of the day, you want to be careful not to overeat so that you don’t feel weighed down for the rest of the day.  A quick 5-minute movement practice after eating can help the digestive system stay moving to…

2 pm - 6 pm - Accumulation

  • Perform normal activities of the day
  • Optimal mid-afternoon snack for kapha is an apple.  It helps to keep the digestive track moving, provides extra glucose to the brain prompting strong energy levels. 
  • Take a break and prepare for the evening by enjoying a cup of herbal tea mixed with ghee

6 pm - 10 pm - Aggravation

  • Consume a light dinner with family as close to 6 pm as possible.  

Enjoy each other’s company and eat slowly, rest your fork in between bites, and try not to consume too much water during the meal.

Engaging in a light activity after the meal is super helpful for Kapha’s to prevent constipation and lethargy.  Even as simple as doing the dishes immediately after will help tremendously.

Kapha’s should try not eat anything else after their light dinner as it can increase the aggravation in the body not allowing the sleep cycle of alleviation to happen.

  • Rest in the evening

If you want to get out of the house and something like a restorative Yoga class, art workshop, lectures, etc.

If you nap or watch television after your meal, your digestion will become sluggish and you won’t be able to get a full restful. 

Avoid high stimulation 2 hours prior to bedtime

  • Low lights (candle light the best option) at least 30 to 60 minutes prior to bed time 
  • Wind down by performing an evening pranayama or trataka meditation practice ( ghee candle gazing)

2 am - 6 am - Accumulation 

  • Coming to the end of the sleep cycle

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