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.

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. I recently brainstormed the many benefits of online yoga teacher training and put seven of them into a blog post. Check it out.

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 our next YTT.

is online yoga teachre training worth it

5 Ways to Deepen Your Yoga Practice

Meditating with Mala Beads

1. Attend a retreat, workshop or teacher training.

Okay, lets start with the most obvious way to deepen your yoga practice. Go on a retreat, participate in an immersion program, or attend a teacher training with a favorite teacher. Maybe try a new-to-you style of yoga like Bhakti Flow, Yin, or Ashtanga. If you feel ready to move deeper into your practice read my recent blog post about what it’s like to attend a yoga retreat. Yoga retreats and teacher trainings are life changing, practice changing, wall breaking awesomeness.

2. My favorite: Begin a meditation practice.

For those that are new to meditation begin with 5-10 minutes a day. There are many different types of meditation, explore them all: Mindfulness, Concentration, Transcendental, Japa, Mantra etc. Don’t limit yourself to one type. They all have benefits. To begin a meditation practice all you need is a comfortable seat. The most simple meditation technique is to simply witness the gentle tide of your breath. I like using the Insight Timer App for my meditation practice. Insight Timer has guided meditations (helpful if you’re feeling distracted or overwhelmed) and also a timer. Insight Timer also has a pretty substantial and involved meditation community.

3. Get familiar with Patanjali’s Yamas & Niyamas

Yep I said it. The yamas and niyamas are a guide to living a moral, yogic lifestyle. In layman’s terms the yamas are things not to do, while the niyamas are things to do. These are the first two limbs in Patanjali’s eightfold path as laid out in the Yoga Sutras. It takes a lot of courage to really look at ourselves and our lives as they relate to the yamas and niyamas. Don’t be afraid to shine that light. It will only bring you growth.

The Yamas (Restraints)

  1. Ahimsa: nonviolence
  2. Satya: truthfulness
  3. Asteya: non-stealing
  4. Brahmacharya: non-excess ie. moderation
  5. Aparigraha: non-attachment ie. non-greed

The Niyamas (Observances)

  1. Saucha: purity
  2. Santosha: contentment
  3. Tapas: self-discipline
  4. Svadhyaya: self-study
  5. Ishvara Pranidhana: surrender

4. Begin a Home Practice

Create a sacred space in your home for your practice. I live in a 1000 sq. foot duplex that I share with my husband, two dogs, and a cat… and I work from home when I’m not teaching yoga. Let’s just say it’s cozy. In our guest room I have created a space that feels almost sacred…. to be honest most days it needs a little to a lot of help, but it’s a work in progress. I ALWAYS have a mat down and props available. The room gets great natural lighting, I keep essential oils handy and I’m in the process of finding a small table to use as an altar.

Create a space for your home practice anywhere… even if it’s in your living room with your toddler running around or your pets sleeping on your mat. Only you know what you need when it comes to your practice, so give yourself the space and the time to explore.

5. Create a practice of gratitude.

Practicing gratitude is an absolute gift… and maybe one of the best gifts you can give yourself. Don’t get me wrong my life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, but I do make it a point to practice gratitude multiple times a day and now it has become a habit. When I’m making dinner I find gratitude in the fresh, healthy produce in front of me and my wonderful partner that helps me prepare meals, the sweet puppy cuddles and kisses that I graciously receive everyday, my healthy, strong and capable body, the many teachers I have in my life (yoga instructors, friends, acquaintances, students, my partner), the list goes on and on. Tips for adding in a bit more gratitude: Anytime you’re by yourself take a moment to reflect on what you’re grateful for: in the car, brushing your teeth, in the shower, walking to work, beginning/ending your yoga practice, cleaning the kitchen or bathroom, doing laundry.

I hope you find these tips to deepen your practice helpful. I’m always here to support you if you have questions or need guidance.

Namaste!

Autumn

Follow me

Autumn Adams

Owner, Founder, & Retreat Leader at Ambuja Yoga
Autumn founded Ambuja Yoga in 2014 to share her love of adventure, yoga, and travel with her fellow yogis. Ambuja Yoga has morphed into more than she could have ever dreamed and she is thrilled to have a "job" she loves. She is forever grateful for the opportunity to facilitate personal growth and self love through yoga while taking yogis to off-the-beaten-path destinations worldwide. Follow Autumn on Instagram @autumnadamsyoga.
Autumn Adams
Follow me

Latest posts by Autumn Adams (see all)