Black History Month Salute: 3 Women 3 Doshas: Part III
Ayurvedic medicine is one of the oldest healing traditions with texts dating back over 3,000 years. The principles of Ayurvedic healing are founded on balancing the energies of the five elements found in nature: earth, air, fire, water and ether. These energies govern all the functions of our bodies and all things.
In Ayurveda, there are three doshas: vata, pitta and kapha that represent the balance of the elements. Each person has a predominance of one dosha and often people are a mix of doshas.
According to Ayurveda, your constitution is inherited at birth, but can go in and out of balance throughout your lifetime. In disease states, we often find an imbalance of these (hot/cold, hot/warm, cold/dry, cold/moist) qualities that can be overcome through complimentary dietary and lifestyle changes suited to one’s dosha.
This is the third post of a three-part series highlighting African-American women representing each dosha in honor of Black History Month and beyond. So far, we honored actress Kerry Washington and looked at common vata characteristics. We featured tennis superstar Serena Williams as our pitta prototype. In this post, we will look at the kapha dosha associated with the elements water and earth. The kapha energy is like clay (the mixture of water and earth) and provides structure and lubrication to the body, nourishes cells and organs, and is responsible for stamina.
Kapha: Element: Water + Earth
Jessamyn Stanley, born June 27, 1987 in Durham, North Carolina is a yoga instructor, ‘fat femme’, body positivity advocate, activist and writer. She is the author of Everybody Yoga Let go of Fear, Get on the Mat, Love Your Body.
Jessamyn’s popularity grew from her instagram page where she posted images of her plus-sized black body in yoga poses where she has changed the narrative and perception of
mainstream Western yoga. Stanley travels around the world teaching yoga and spreading body positivity. Stanley has inspired people of all shapes and sizes to practice yoga and believes that self-acceptance is a form of activism.
Athletic and round like Jessamyn, kaphas tend to be heavy, grounded, stable, cool, and smooth. They tend to be slow to start, but have an impressive level of physical and emotional endurance once stimulated. Despite their large size, kaphas don’t have the robust appetite of vatas and pittas and are very good at storing energy. Typically easy going, kind, patient listeners and speakers, these kapha characteristics are likely what attracts so many people to healers and activists like Jessamyn and kaphas in general.
Through the relationship she has built with her followers and students around the world, we can see that she embodies the characteristic steadiness and loving energy of the kapha dosha. When out of balance, kaphas lean towards sluggishness and are often set in their ways. We can see how Jessamyn’s yoga practice, busy teaching schedule, and speaking engagements provide her the variety and balance she needs to allow her constitution to thrive. True to form, this kapha is not treading lightly as a newbie on the scene in promoting self love, acceptance and wellness.
Kapha Elements: Water and Earth
Best Foods: (Bitter/Pungent/Astringent): dried fruits, apples, pears, pomegranates, cranberries, raw steamed or stir fried veggies, leafy greens, beans, raw honey, limited grains and legumes.
Foods to Avoid: salt, fried foods, bread, dairy products, nuts & seeds, sweet, sour, and juicy fruits and vegetables.
Kapha Herbs: (Warming/Drying): Ginger (Zingiber officinale), Cayenne (Capsicum annuum), Garlic (Allium sativum), Triphala (3 Berries): Amalaki (Emblica officinalis), Bibhitaki (Terminalia bellirica), Haritaki (Terminalia chebula).
Aggravators: rainy seasons, sweet, sour, salty foods, comfort foods, autumn and winter seasons, excessive sleep, lack of exercise, late-night snacking.
Trouble Signs: clammy skin, congestion, sinus problems, obesity, lethargy, indigestion, laziness, water retention, excessive saliva in the mouth.
Lifestyle Advice: get moving to gain momentum! Kaphas need stimulation, so keep your senses and your body active. Add variety to your life and routine to counter the tendency towards sluggishness, depression, and to becoming too stuck in your ways. Tune into your body and only eat when hungry. Strive for small meals and limit snacking.
Understanding the doshas can be a bit tricky. What’s important to highlight is that like the three women mentioned in this series, we are all perfect as we are and one constitution is not better or more desirable than the other. Your dosha simply, is what it is. This week, let’s salute African-American kaphas doing big things in and around the world.
Do you know your dosha? Get out there and have fun learning about your constitution and how to use these energetic principles to keep you on the good foot! There are many free dosha tests available online that can help you determine your dosha or contact an experienced practitioner.
What’s your Dosha? Who’s your favorite kapha? Make sure to share your wellness tips according to your dosha in the comments!