Navigating Kapha Season: Balancing Kapha Dosha During Kapha Season

For the entirety of my adult life, I’ve always felt the call to escape winter’s cold. The shorter, cold, wet/snowy days have never been my thing. I end up feeling foggy, heavy, lethargic, and unmotivated… which just snowballs into more of the same. So each year, I’ve packed up and headed south to Bali or Nicaragua or Mexico or Costa Rica or Thailand. The destination hasn’t always been important, but the heat and the warmth sure have. I’ve learned that if I take the time to listen to the wisdom of my body it will guide me back into balance. My body naturally wants to balance kapha dosha, even during kapha season. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, hop on over to this blog post that talks about the basics of Ayurveda and dosha theory.

Now that we’re on the road, traveling in the RV we seem to be chasing warmer weather, much the same as I have always done, but at a slower pace. We’ve experienced all of nature’s beautiful fury… from giant storms on the Oregon Coast, to monsoon rains in the Redwoods, to snow in Joshua Tree. We’ve experienced her wonder and beauty too… seal pups playing in a calm cove in Florence, the majestic energy of the Redwoods, the first signs of spring in Santa Barbara, hiking on “new to me” trails to discover hidden gems, exploring new cities and visiting familiar ones, and the warmth of the sun on my skin.

This afternoon I’ll throw my yoga mat down in the dust and sand of Joshua Tree N.P. and flow with the sun on my skin and savor every moment.

This is the season of kapha dosha… from the darkness of winter to early spring, soon we’ll begin to transition into pitta and the heat of summer, but for now, we’ll work on balancing kapha dosha. I find this time of the season to be the hardest to navigate, but with the pitta season right around the corner, it’s also exciting. It’s time to shake off the weightiness of winter and invite my energy to return.

Kapha dosha is associated with the elements of earth and water. When it’s in balance, the kapha person is loving, loyal, stable and dependable, but when kapha is out of wack and excessive they can be prone to lethargy, weight gain, and dullness (I’m just going to go ahead and raise my hand here). In Ayurveda, they use opposite qualities to bring balance to the out of balance dosha. If you’re in a season of excess kapha, you would want to incorporate dynamic movement and light, dry, and warming foods and spices into your day.

This time of year, I naturally want to stay inside, eat soup, and cuddle under a giant pile of blankets because I crave the warmth. But as we know, kapha creates more kapha, and I need to move. This winter I took the plunge and signed up for classpass, so I could, gasp, go to CorePower and take a hot yoga class… don’t judge me! While there is no spiritual aspect to a CorePower class there is heat and it does get the blood flowing, which is exactly what I need this time of year. I can weave my meditation practice and spiritual practices into other parts of my day OR invite my yoga practice to be a moving meditation.

Your Guide to Navigating Kapha Season

If you’re also feeling bogged down by kapha, here are my favorite practices to shake off the excess. And if you’re not sure what your dosha is, I really like this dosha quiz from Banyan Botanicals.

1. MOVE YOUR BODY

Yes, you’ve got to move your body. More than you’re naturally inclined to this season. This is the season where we walk the fine line between restoration and rest and doing and building. Do a more strenuous activity… hot yoga or a dynamic vinyasa practice, hop on the stair climber at the gym, do that challenging hike you’ve been eye-balling, but you think is just a little too long/too hard, take up skiing or mountain biking, etc. Do something that gets your heart pumping and blood flowing to clear out stagnation. It will help lift the mental fog while keeping your energy levels up.

If you’re practicing yoga at home, or wondering what type of studio class to seek, a practice to balance kapha dosha would include dynamic movement, lots of standing poses, and perhaps some heating pranayama techniques like kapalabhati, ujjayi, or surya bhedana (solar breath). If you prefer a guided practice at home, check out this dynamic, energy building prana vayu class on my YouTube channel.

kapha season yoga practice

2. TAKE TIME TO SLOW DOWN

This is a natural season for slowing down and laying the foundation for the season ahead, so take this time to meditate, create, learn new skills, clear out clutter, and set yourself up for success. Because when you feel the shift in energy you’re going to want to do it all. But don’t let this time for slowing down take over your life. Just a few minutes a day is enough.

ayurveda doshas spices

3. EAT WARMING SPICES

Think cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cayenne, and cloves. Drink hot chai, golden mylk, and warm water with lemon and cayenne. 

4. EAT WARM FOODS

If you’re feeling chilled, eat warm food that’s easy to digest like hot soups, sauteed or roasted veggies and stirfries. Avoid heavier foods, like dairy, nuts, and fats (it’s so hard to cut back on avocado). If your digestive fire is still going strong, and spring is near, feel free to start incorporating more raw veggies and salads in your diet.

5. GET OUTSIDE

This is tricky, especially if you’re like me and HATE being cold. I will do almost anything to avoid being cold! LOL. But when the sun is out, get your booty outside and get those sweet rays of Vitamin D on your skin. Feel the warmth of the sun on your cheeks… in moderation, of course, no sunburns! Enjoy a cup of coffee in the sunshine, go for a walk/hike, or take a few moments to stretch it out.

april-2018-yoga-surf-retreat-nicaragua

6. CAN’T TAKE THE COLD AND WET OF KAPHA SEASON? TRAVEL SOMEWHERE WARM

If you have the means, take a few days, a weekend, a week, or a month and go somewhere warm! Seriously, it doesn’t need to be anything fancy. Take a weekend in Santa Barbara, Palm Springs (there are tons of hot spring resorts here) or Sedona. Take a long weekend and go to Mexico. Have more time? Head further south… Nicaragua has amazing beaches, jungles, and islands… and it’s freakin cheap, same with Thailand. Just do it. You’re worth it. It will give you something to look forward to and will maybe even motivate you to keep moving your body throughout the winter.

7. SELF-CARE

There are so many ways that we can practice self-care and I know that the ones I’m about to mention aren’t that exciting, but they’re easy to include in your daily (or weekly) routine and have big results.

Give dry brushing a try… it helps improve circulation and you’re exfoliating your beautiful skin. It’s a win-win. You can find dry brushes at most health food stores. I’m on the road and I don’t have space for a dry brush, so I use a shower loofah that has a loofah scrubber on one side and the mesh side for soapy tasks… it works double duty for me. You can also find dry brushing gloves. Just a few minutes before you hop in the shower is enough.

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE self-massage or abhyanga. Use a warming oil like sesame and set aside 15 minutes to give your body and nervous system a little TLC. Put an old towel down on the bathroom floor, strip down and give your entire body a massage. Use long strokes on your long bones and circles on your joints. This practice is super calming for the nervous system and such a beautiful way to practice self-love.

Kapha’s tend to be more mucus-y and prone to colds/congestion, so tongue scraping is another practice I recommend for kaphas and especially during this cooler kapha season. With tongue scraping, you’ll scrape off all that extra gunk that’s hanging out on your tongue. I use a copper one that I found for a steal on Amazon.

Wow, I know I just shared a lot of info here. If you want to learn more about Yoga and Ayurveda, check out my upcoming 300 hour yoga teacher training. You’ll learn how to incorporate Ayurvedic theory into your class planning for specific doshas, the different seasons, times of day and even seasons of life.

You Can Preorder The Little Book of Mudra Meditations Now

Hey beautiful yogis! I’m so ridiculously excited to announce that my book The Little Book of Mudra Meditations: 30 hand Gestures for Healing is finally available for presale on Amazon. It still feels surreal to have a book available for sale on Amazon. It’s still sinking in.

This book was written for you. The writing is honest and real, without too much “woo”. It’s meant for anyone seeking more wellness in their life, not just yoga teachers and yogis. That being said, yoga teachers will love having the mudras and meditations already paired… it makes prep time for class, so much faster!

Nowadays I always practice meditation with a hand mudra, I just can’t imagine it any other way. The mudra meditations in this book are actual meditation practices that I practice and teach.

I would love to share an excerpt from the book and one of my favorite mudras with you. Sukham Mudra is so good for stress relief. If you’re like me and juggling multiple projects and trying to maintain a healthy, easeful, joyful life… give this mudra a try!

“In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Patanjali says, “Sthira-sukham asanam,” or
“Our seat should be both steady and easeful.” This sutra, however, applies not only to our meditation practice, but also life as a whole. For many of us,
we’re overscheduled, overtasked, overstimulated, exhausted, burned out,
stressed out, and no longer connected to the cycles and rhythms of nature.

Sukham is all about creating ease, happiness, harmony, flow, and joy.
It’s about creating time to slow down and get present with our essence,
with our truth.”

Take this mudra outdoors, sit and breathe and be still. With each cycle of breath allow your body to soften and release the tension, stress, and worry of the day.

If you would like to learn more about mudras, you can snag your copy on Amazon now. It’s available for presale! If you bring it on retreat or to a teacher training, I’ll even sign it for you! 😉

Love and Light,

Autumn

mudra meditations book

Is Online Yoga Teacher Training Worth It?

Hey beautiful soul. I’m guessing that since you’re here, you have been playing with the idea of signing up for an online yoga teacher training and you’re probably wondering if it’s worth it. I mean, can you actually learn how to teach yoga online? Is it just going to be a colossal waste of time and money?

How to create an intention

Deciding to do any yoga teacher training, whether it’s in person or online is not only life-changing, it’s a huge time commitment. These days, most yoga trainings are a minimum of 200 hours, either packed into a couple of weeks or spread out over multiple weekends. I’ve taught both intensive and weekend format teacher trainings and now I’m branching into the online world. (Read about why I’m so passionate about this here). To be honest, all of the formats have a fair number of pros and cons. The most important thing when deciding on your YTT is finding a teacher, schedule and price point that works for you. Your 200 hour yoga teacher training just scratches the surface. You’ll be so hungry to learn more, I know I was, and my 200 hour training was fantastic!

Get to Know The Instructor

So is an online YTT worth it? Well, that depends. As with any yoga teacher trainings, or other large purchase, I recommend doing your research. I would hate for you to invest in a YTT (any YTT) and have it basically be a “lemon”. Check out the teacher(s), read their reviews and chat with them on the phone. Who did they train with? What are they passionate about? Is there training more “magical” or rooted in modern science? I would highly recommend speaking to one of their former students. I know that I would happily connect a future YTT student with a former student because honestly, I want to make sure that the students that join my yoga teacher trainings are a good fit.

train to teach yoga online

I think scheduling and flexibility is a huge perk to participating in an online training. A good online training will provide live calls, one on one coaching, and community building activities in addition to their online resources. You don’t want to sign up for a training that is just a series of pre-recorded videos. Interaction, feedback, and discussion on online calls and in closed forums are invaluable. Check the call times and figure out exactly how many you need to attend to get your certificate. If you need to miss a call, are live calls recorded and available for you to watch? While we’re on the topic of schedules, I would also recommend that you find out if there is a deadline to send in your course assignments. Personally, I like deadlines because they hold me accountable, without them it could take me years to send in that final assignment. So, know if you do better with or without them.

Get A Sneak Peek

If possible, ask the instructor if you can see some of the material. Is it presented well? Is it professional? Or does it look like it was slapped together in Word. Ask to see a chapter of the manual, a module, a workbook page, or video — whatever you’re comfortable asking to see or are most concerned about. The more you know about the course, the more you will know what to expect AND you’ll know if it’s actually a good fit for you.

Unlimited Access to Materials

There were so many powerful, engaging lectures and discussions from my early trainings that I wish I had recorded copies of them, just so I could go back and review the material or sink deeper into the knowledge and wisdom provided to me. Another benefit of joining my online yoga teacher training is that all of our calls are recorded and available for you to view, review, fast-forward, rewind and rewatch.

Online Yoga Teacher Training Fits Your Already Busy Life

One of the beauties of online yoga teacher training is that you can show up exactly as you are… sweat pants, crazy hair, toddlers hanging off your hip. You can hop onto your calls from home, the beach, or a cafe. You can listen to your video lectures on your morning commute, while you’re making dinner, or after the kids are in bed. Training to become a yoga teacher online fits into your daily life… no need to add commute times, no need to hire a babysitter, no need to take copious amounts of time off of work.

In my experience, a well thought out online yoga teacher training or online workshop is totally worth it. They provide flexibility, community, and access to the materials anytime you want them. In the not too distant past, training to become a yoga teacher online was looked at as being “less than” training in person, but I’m here to change that. I’ve been pouring my heart, sweat, and tears into this project. And it’s ready to share. Registration is open for the February training.

Vishuddha Chakra

vishuddha chakra
Photo by Freepik

Vishuddha- especially pure
Chakra- wheel

Our fifth chakra, known as our throat chakra, is all about our ability to stay true to our personal truth and our ability to interface with the world around us with honesty and integrity. When our fifth chakra is balanced, our actions and are aligned with our words. If you often feel like you can’t express yourself freely for fear of judgment or criticism or you find it difficult to speak up for yourself and the less fortunate, your throat chakra may be blocked. If you find that you often talk over others, overshare or have difficulty listening to others your throat chakra may be overactive.

We meditate and do throat chakra practices to cultivate our inner trust, to bring ease to our communication, to embrace our creative self-expression and manage the quality of our thoughts. We learn to practice ahimsa, or non-harming, and satya, truthfulness in all of our actions and thoughts… at least to the best of our ability. We are human after all.

“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; for it becomes your destiny.”

Upanishads
chakra colors

Vishuddha Chakra at a Glance:

  • Location: Front of the spine at the throat pit
  • Element: Akasha (ether)
  • Color: Turquoise Blue
  • Lotus: 16 petaled
  • Bija Mantra: HAM
  • Aspects: Communication, sound, creative identity, self-expression, finding your voice and speaking your truth
  • Sense: Hearing
  • Vayu: Udan, the upward flowing air of the throat and head that aids in the production of sound
  • Planet: Jupiter
  • Kosha: Vijnanamaya Kosha
  • Associated with: the throat, thyroid, parathyroid, hypothalamus, mouth, and cervical spine

“Every choice we make, every thought and feeling we have, is an act of power that has biological, environmental, social, personal, and global consequences. We are everywhere our thoughts are and thus our personal responsibility includes our energy contributions.”

Anatomy of the Spirit by Caroline Myss

Vishuddha Chakra’s 16 Petaled Lotus

The yantra of the throat chakra has 16 petals of smoky purple color. Each of the petals has a vowel written on it. Each vowel, when combined with nada bindu or NG creates a seed sound. In addition to the vowels, each petal is associated with one of 16 different vrittis (mental fluctuations). Most of the vrittis associated with vishuddha chakra are musical in nature. The seed sounds on the lotus petals include Om, Ong, Swaha, Namah and many others. These sounds are associated with different deities and their characteristics.

The Element Akasha and Vishuddha Chakra

Vishuddha chakra is associated with the element of akasha, also known as ether, space or the void. According to Ayurveda’s five-element theory, Ether is the subtlest of the elements and it precedes all other elements. The throat chakra is linked to our ability to hear and our ability to speak. In Harish Johari’s Chakras: Energy Centers of Transformation, “Akasha is generated by the tanmatra of sound.”

The Bija Mantra for Vishuddha Chakra

The bija mantra for the throat chakra is HAM, sometimes spelled HUM or even HANG. The variations in spelling and pronunciation vary from region to region in India.

Take a moment to chant the sound of HAM and notice its vibration in the region of your throat. The bija mantras are used to awaken the chakras and their various characteristics.

The sound HAM is carried upon the back of gaja, or elephant. The gaja carries all the knowledge of the earth and its plants and it teaches self-confidence and patience.

Photo by Yanalya at FreePik

Panchavaktra Shiva and Shakini Shakti and the Throat Chakra

The throat chakra is associated with Shakini Shakti, the embodiment of purity, the bearer of higher knowledge and great siddhis. She reveals her teachings when we’re in a deep dream state. She is associated with memory, peace, intuition, wit, and improvisation.

Panchavaktra Shiva represents all of the Shiva energies. Each of his five heads represents the five tanmatras and the tattvas that emerge from them along with their corresponding Shiva energies. Panchavaktra Shiva is the bestower of fearlessness and is also commonly referred to as the Great Teacher.

  1. Aghora, lord of the North. Aghora resides in the cremation grounds and is associated with the tattva akasha or void.
  2. Ishana, lord of the Northeast. He resides in the shrines and is associated with the tattva water.
  3. Tat Purusha, lord of the East. He appears in meditation and is associated with the tattva air.
  4. Vama Deva, the eternal Shiva. He is associated with the tattva earth.
  5. And finally, Saddyojat, the lord of the south. He is associated with the tattva fire.

An Out of Balance Fifth Chakra

We fear being controlled or not having control, being trapped, or feel like we have no say in the world around us.

When your throat chakra is underactive you may find it difficult to express your thoughts and opinions for fear of judgment or failure, whereas if your fifth chakra is overactive you may tend to speak over others, or struggle to listen.

A Balanced Throat Chakra

When Vishuddha Chakra is balanced, your words and actions become aligned, and the words you speak come from the heart and speak directly to the heart of those around you. Prayers, songs, and mantras spontaneously arise from the depths of your heart.

Your sense of self-knowledge is strong and unwavering and you express yourself freely without fear of judgment or reprimand. You’re able to communicate with clarity and ease AND you pick up non-verbal communication just as easily as verbal communication.

The fifth chakra is often associated with a spiritual rebirth, a transformation of the spirit.

How to Balance the Throat Chakra

mantra meditation throat chakra
Image by Veronica Bosley from Pixabay

Meditation on the throat chakra is one of the most powerful ways to bring about its awakening. Chanting mantra through japa meditation, kirtan, and song are all beautiful ways to cultivate an awakened fifth chakra. Sing in the shower, chant in the car, go see live music.

If you’re feeling stuck, tongue-tied, your creative juices aren’t flowing you might find it helpful to get your words, thoughts and ideas down on paper. Buy a beautiful journal and get in the habit of journaling, whether it’s one sentence, a bullet list or a full page, just start. Other suggestions to awaken your fifth chakra are to read a book or take up a new creative hobby like painting, drawing, or even dancing. Find something that inspires you and start there.

Practice deep listening. Listen with full presence and curiosity. Ask questions. Repeat back what you hear. Listen without thinking about how you’ll respond.

Two mudras for the Throat Chakra

Hand mudras can be used to heal and awaken the chakras and balance our energy. Here are two hand mudras that can be used to awaken your fifth chakra.

Udana Mudra | Upward Moving Air Gesture

Udana Mudra cultivates the energy, or air, of Udana Vayu. Udana Vayu governs the space between your chest and your head. It is an upward and outward flow of energy and is the basis for sound.

We can cultivate Udana Vayu to help awaken our fifth chakra, improve our sense of self-worth, and increase our creative self-expression. This mudra is also often practiced to create more joy and optimism in our lives.

To practice Udana Mudra, bring the tips of your ring, middle, and index fingers to meet the tip of your thumb. Extend your little finger long.

Shunya Mudra | Gesture of the Void

Shunya Mudra helps to balance the excess of ether. If you’re having trouble listening, you’re feeling flighty or ungrounded then Shunya Mudra can help you feel calm, clear and capable of listening earnestly and communicating clearly.

To practice Shunya Mudra, fold your middle finger down toward the base of your thumb and wrap your thumb over the top of your middle finger. Extend your little, ring and index fingers long. This mudra is the same for both right and left hands.

Crystals for the Throat Chakra

throat chakra crystals
Image by TessaMannonen from Pixabay
  • Turquoise (communication)
  • Blua Apatite (personal power)
  • Clear quartz
  • Blue Agate
  • Selenite
  • Lapis Lazuli (truth and awareness)
  • Sodalite (harmony)
  • Aquamarine (courage)

Yoga Poses for the Throat Chakra

  • Bridge Pose
  • Shoulderstand
  • Camel Pose
  • Fish Pose
  • Reverse Warrior
  • Warrior One or Crescent Lunge with the gaze lifted
  • Locust Pose with hands bound behind the back
  • Humble Warrior
  • Extended Side Angle
  • Triangle Pose
  • Wild Thing
  • Wheel Pose
  • Mountain Brook Pose (restorative)
  • Supported Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle)
  • Jalandhara Bandha
  • Kapalabhati
  • Brahmari

Book Recommendations:

Burn the F’n Boats

I’m sorry. I went dark for a few months. I didn’t go to a dark place, don’t worry, but I’ve been absent from all the “things” recently. I’ve been absent from Facebook, email, and even my beloved Instagram. And it has been glorious, but I’ve missed hearing about your summer trips and all of the fun things you’ve been up to. This past “winter, spring, and summer” was one of my busiest retreat and teacher training seasons and it was important for me to take a pause this month. A very big, delicious pause to rest, recharge and enjoy a bit of summer before buckling down again.

womens yoga retreat in oregon

I want to share a moment of insight I had during the Back to Nature retreats in July. For those of you who have not been on the Back to Nature retreat (yet), on our final night we do a fire ceremony. During the fire ceremony, we let go of old stories and dramas and release our old belief structures (fear, self-doubt, etc.) and turn them over to Spirit, Source, Universe, God. It is both cathartic and healing to burn the ties that bind us… all in a safe, supportive circle of strong, beautiful women. And we call in exactly what we need!

I’ve sat in many circles. I’ve been apart of many fire ceremonies. Each one touches on my heart and my soul in a different, unique, and beautiful way. This time was unexpectedly different. I seem to release the same things over and over again in different layers, like peeling back the layers of an onion or bulb of fennel. And what I released was more of the same patterns I continue to work through, but what I called in was even more important! Straight from my soul, with no filter, with no mask, I asked Spirit to “Burn the F’n Boats!” Yep, I swore in circle and I meant it! I meant it wholeheartedly and I still do.

You might be wondering what the heck do you mean by “burn the boats” and if you know where the saying comes from, you might be even more confused. Why is my yoga teacher talking about war strategy? Sun Tzu shared the strategy in the ancient military treatise, “The Art of War”, Alexander the Great used the strategy when his Greek army arrived in Persia, and as the legend goes, Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortez also employed the strategy when he arrived in Mexico in the 1500s. Okay, and…Burning the boats removes the escape plan, the fall back plan, it removes the thought, “well if things don’t work out, I can (fill in the blank with xyz)” Don’t get me wrong, having a plan B is a great idea BUT if our fall back plan isn’t painful enough or scary enough we don’t give our all to achieving our goals, dreams, desires. When plan B is pretty cushy we stay in the status quo, we fall back into old habits, we procrastinate on our dreams, we don’t push as hard through the tough times, we don’t do the hours to make our dreams our reality. Our dreams are ours. Let’s take ownership over them. When you burn the boats you ignite a burning desire to succeed, you light a fire under your own bum! You say YES to living the life you want. A healthier life. A joyful life. An inspired life. You make it priority number one. There is no other choice.

So why am I telling you all this? I’ve always felt like I do a “pretty good job” getting things done, but if I’m really being honest, I spend a lot of my time distracted, messing around on YouTube and social media, cleaning the house when I don’t need to, pinning on Pinterest, excessive planning… when I could be a bit more focused. And this next stage of life requires that I am all in and that I do, in fact, burn the boats! I want to stay connected with my yoga tribe. I want to travel more. I want to spend more time with the people I love. I want to spend more time in nature. So what does that mean?

1) We’re moving… again. (Myself, Steve and our furbabies will be back in Bend in October)

2) Finding Thrive, my online course rooted in Ayurvedic self-care practices and habit evolution launches in January 2020. If you’re feeling stuck with your diet, your sleep, your lifestyle… this course is for you. I don’t even know if I can call it a course because it’s so much more… you’ll learn the tools you need to succeed, you’ll have access to an awesome support tribe (let’s be honest– we can’t do it on our own), and you’ll receive one-to-one and group coaching. <3 More details will be available by the end of September.

3) Online Yoga Teacher Training starts in February 2020 (If money is tight, please reach out. I will be offering a few spots at a special *very discounted* rate for beta testers. You get to take the online course for cheap, in exchange, you give me feedback about what you liked/didn’t like from each module.) More details will be launching soon.

4) My YouTube channel will be blowing up with new yoga practice videos, meditations, yoga nidras and tutorials, starting ASAP. Check it out!

5) I would love to come visit you and maybe even host a workshop at your favorite local studio. <3 Nowhere is off-limits. Email me!!!

6) My 2020 Retreat schedule is coming together nicely.

Love and Light,

Autumn