Beginning in January in the Northern Hemisphere, we get a chance to hit the reset button, and leave the previous year behind. We also say goodbye to the rough and dry qualities of the Vata season, and greet the heavy, dense, and cold qualities of Kapha season. Rather than the four seasons of winter, spring, summer and fall, the 3 main seasons of Ayurveda (Vata, Pitta and Kapha) correspond to the qualities of the weather. This means that depending on where you live and how many seasonal variations occur, when and how long each season lasts will be unique to your location on the globe. Regions of India may have as many as six seasonal changes, and in other areas, like along the North American Coast, you may have as few as two.
No matter where you reside, Kapha season, representing the elements of earth and water, is the time when winter moves into its second phase: from dry, cold and light (early winter – Vata season), to damp, cold and heavy. Kapha season stays with us and flows into the typically wet weather of early spring.
For some, this tends to be a time of extra rest, nurturing and nesting as the holiday season comes to a close. For others, it’s ‘go time’, back on deadlines, scheduled travel and health routines. No matter how you choose to spend the season, it is important to keep Kapha in balance by allowing extra time to contemplate and reflect, make time for yourself to embrace morning activities, and indulge in an extra hour of sleep when possible. For anyone susceptible to Kapha imbalances, this time of year may increase feelings of being “stuck” in emotions, or having symptoms of brain fog, sluggishness, or depression. Physical symptoms of excess Kapha include weight gain and respiratory congestion.
Kapha dosha rules during winter and early spring, and it peaks each morning from 6 am to 10 am, and evening 6 pm to 10 pm. These are perfect times of the daily cycle to incorporate some Kapha dosha balancing rituals.
Balancing oils for kapha season are typically those which are energizing. Try spicy, warm and uplifting aromas such as Eucalyptus, Clove, Cardamom, Juniper, Marjoram, Silver fir, and Tulsi to invigorate you during this season.
Personally, I love to diffuse single notes of any of the essential oils above or blend them with any citrus essential oil and a carrier oil such as sesame or olive oil for self-Abhyanga (“oil massage”), an Ayurvedic treatment using dosha-specific warm, infused oils. Another option is to add mineral salt to your oil blend for a pre-shower salt scrub applied in the shower before you turn the water on, that you will rinse off (sans soap) to pull out toxins from the body with the additional benefit of glowing skin.
A few additional things to consider to help prevent kapha imbalances are warm oil massages to loosen your muscles during colder weather followed by a vigorous towel rub. Sesame oil is a great warming carrier oil to use with one or more of the essential oils listed above. Drinking warm water throughout the day also decreases kapha accumulation and assists the digestive system. Morning and evening yoga practice may include strong back and forward bends (be careful to do what works for your own body) to stimulate the kidneys and lungs where Kapha naturally accumulates.
No matter where you live, and when Kapha season occurs for you, prepare yourself to stay healthy and in balance by adding warmth, movement, and spicy scents into your daily life – and enjoy!