An imbalance of Kapha can leave you feeling sluggish. There are four specific yoga poses and breath-linked sequences that can offset that imbalance and get you up and moving.
Have you sent this text to your best friend recently? “I just don’t feel like doing anything. I don’t want to deal with it. I’m so exhausted!” Or have you been feeling unhinged and ungrounded—like you’re juggling dozens of balls in the air? “I am so busy. I just can’t get everything done. I feel like I’m running on empty!” Whether there has been a recent change in the weather pattern, a busy end-of-summer travel schedule, or you’re too aware of the intense chaos of society, you may be feeling extremely sluggish, heavy, or sticky. These are indications of a Kapha imbalance.
Kapha, one of the three Ayurvedic doshas, is governed by the elements of earth and water: heavy like clay, sticky like glue. Kapha qualities such as stability in muscles, bones, and mind, hearty immunity, and calmness help keep you healthy and grounded. An excess of Kapha can lead to feeling unbalanced in the body and mind, weight gain, sadness, lethargy, and general malaise.
Practicing energizing yoga poses and breath-linked sequences, or kriyas, can help defend against Kapha imbalance. Kriyas are repetitive and invigorating movements. Kriyas help to stimulate and move the Prana, or life force, through your energy channels. They historically are practiced with the intention to unblock your chakras to allow Kundalini, or your soul nerve, to rise. In his workshops, yoga teacher Saul David Raye reminds students that kriya, karma, and creativity have the same roots—karma being the idea that each of your actions has an effect and creativity being that magical inspiration that guides you to make, do, and act. Whether you’re searching for a spiritual awakening or just trying to feel awake for your workday, the following movements will give you a lift.
Try these kriyas, in a sequence or independently, to get off the couch, out of bed, and back at it.
Practice this in the morning and evening and notice how your body and breath feel at different times of the day.
- Warms the sacral joint
- Releases tension in the hips and low back
- Stimulates digestive organs in the abdomen
- Healthy for blood circulation to and from the heart
- Sit cross-legged or with your feet touching and knees open.
- Bring one hand to each knee or thigh.
- Inhale and circle your whole torso forward, arching the back slightly.
- Exhale and circle your whole torso, rounding the back as much as is comfortable.
- Continue in a circle in the same direction as long as you’d like. Allow your shoulders to join in and your head and neck to move freely.
- Gently coordinate your movements and breath.
- When it feels right, pause and begin circling the opposite direction.
- Continue for one to five minutes.
- When your circles feel complete, wind down, sit up well, and breathe deeply. Pause and notice how you feel.
Set a timer for the allotted time because you may wish to stop before the time is up. This is the influence of the excess Kapha energy, but you’re stronger than you think you are—don’t give in!
- Warms and breaks the deposits of stress in the shoulders
- Stimulates digestion and agni, the digestive fire
- Encourages courage and perseverance
- Find a comfortable seat: cross-legged, on a cushion, or on your knees.
- Sit up tall and take several cleansing breaths.
- Raise the arms slightly above shoulder height (60 degrees).
- Curl your fingers into your palms and extend the thumbs up and facing in toward one another.
- Close your eyes and turn your inner gaze upward.
- Begin breath of fire and continue for one to three minutes. Some practitioners continue for 11 minutes!
- Finish with a long inhale, bring your thumbs to touch overhead, hold your breath for a few moments, release with an open mouth exhale, and lower your arms to your sides.
Standing Twists with Arms Flying
Let your arms go on this one and visualize yourself free from the restraints and burdens of daily life.
- Activates healthy circulation throughout the entire body
- Encourages movement of the spine and sacrum
- Promotes healthy lungs
- Stand with your feet wider than hip-width apart. Keep a slight bend in your knees.
- Twist and allow your arms to swing naturally.
- Lift your opposite heel as you twist or allow your feet to move naturally as you need for stability.
- If it feels okay, allow your palms or fists to tap your shoulders, low back, and chest as your arms fly.
- Continue for one or two minutes.
- Slow down the twist and stand in stillness.
Breath of Joy
Let the momentum of this sequence carry you and you may find yourself laughing with joy and delight!
- Strengthens lungs
- Raises heart rate
- Promotes mental clarify and prepares a meditative mind
- Stretches legs, arms, torso, and back
- Stand with your feet wider than hips-width apart. Keep a slight bend in your knees.
- Inhale through your nose, swing your arms up and overhead.
- Inhale through your nose, swing your arms out and open to the side.
- Inhale through your nose, swing your arms up and overhead.
- Exhale through your mouth, hinge forward at your hips, let your head go, and swing your arms down and through your legs. Bend your knees as you fold.
- Rise up on your next inhale and repeat.
- Continue and increase to as fast of a pace as you can without losing your balance. Continue for one to two minutes.
- Finish with a long exhale and fold forward.
- Bend your knees and roll up slowly.
Spending some time with these poses will help you balance your kapha energy and realign yourself. Be ready to text your best friend that you’re energized and ready to go!
*Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only; does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Chopra Center's Mind-Body Medical Group; and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.
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