Kapha Dosha is the constitution in Ayurvedic Medicine with a predominance of Water and Earth Elements. Some of its qualities include heavy, slow, soft, dense and stable. Kapha is the principle of nourishment and its refined qualities are like the body’s nectar which fortifies immunity, fertility, adaptability and calm composure in stressful times. Out of balance it can lead to heaviness, lethargy, weight gain, hypersomnia (over-sleeping) and a dull depressed mind. This, among other symptoms and diseases.
I reached a new experiential understanding of Kapha Dosha on the Island of Kauai. In Kauai, the rich warm humidity of the air is pure nourishment, as if you could live on that alone. I stepped from the airport into the most palpable warmth and softness nature can provide. I had forgotten. I travelled to Kauai to cook for an Ayurveda retreat many years ago, but I had forgotten just how marvelous it is to luxuriate in the sumptuous air of Kauai.
The air is not its only source of nectar. The lush vegetation drips with fertility of flowers and fruits. The fruit is the plumpest, sweetest fruit I’ve ever had. The avocados are 4 times the size of those on the mainland and so buttery and rich with flavor. Our hosts brought us so many avocados, I learned why Ayurveda classifies them as tamasic (producing heaviness and lethargy). My mom and I ate so many, we joked we were starting to look like avocados! The air is Kapha, the landscape is Kapha, the food is Kapha, the native people are Kapha, both in stature and culture! A Hawaiian tradition for healing, called Ho’oponopono, is centered on forgiveness, an innate quality of the Kapha dosha.
On Kauai, I reflected on the way in which we truly become our environment. All the qualities present within our atmosphere translates into the food of the land and our bodies. We eat the food and we become what we eat. We breathe the air and it nourishes the skin of all our inner membranes, as the life force of the air circulates throughout our bodies and becomes us. We ingest our environment through our senses, the landscape which nourishes our eyes, the sounds of the elements (the ocean, the wind), the touch of the air on our skin. We eat and drink our environment through every pore, every orifice, every organ.
Everything about Hawaii was like a big warm soft hug and I sank into its bosom for a much needed rest and rejuvenation, catching up on years of lost sleep. Each morning, we were awakened by the joyous greeting of our hostess’s dog, little Lola, the most lovable 3 pounds of fur and fluff (pictured as our trusty article-writing helper). She loved to take looooong luxurious naps on our bed on the Lanai, overlooking the river, mountains and Nei Neis (the native geese and state bird). She taught us about the Kapha Life. Days were spent taking walks on the beach and practicing yoga with renowned teacher and studio owner, Bhavani Maki, at Yoga Hanalei. My mom taught a wonderful workshop at this beautiful studio in the heart of Hanalei, on Yoga Sutras as it applies to Asana.
I returned from Hawaii plumper in stature, but also more rested and replenished on a deep level. Instead of pushing away the Kapha, I let myself fully BE Kapha on Kauai with all its qualities of soft, heavy, still and most of all, SLOW. I was able to drop in to some profound levels of renewal because of Hawaii’s natural slow Kapha pace, also known as “Island Time.”
The healing power of “Island Time,” can alone be a medicine for much that ails the body and mind. It can be so hard on the mainland to go against the momentum and speed at which people conduct life to truly slow down enough to catch a new rhythm. It’s hard to reprogram the fear of being “lazy” or “unproductive.” But there is a grace to the slow quality that enables us to harmonize with the pace of nature. At this pace we are sustained by the prana (life force) that animates and supports all life. In this flow, we do not need to use our own will and effort to fight the battle of time, which can leave us wound in knots of tension and anxiety. Just by halting the process of winding, we automatically begin unwinding.
When we can slow our mind in the center of life’s hustle and bustle there can be a great space that opens within time. In this space, we can become actually more efficient and productive within life’s activities. But more to the point, can we relinquish the whole concept of productivity in times of our life? Can we find space to breathe, to play, to rest, to be creative in unstructured time and space and to truly BE WITH those around us. Sometimes all it takes is the permission to pause and the deepening of the breath to catch a new wave, not the surf of Kauai, but the wave of the embrace and the true sustenance of Mother Earth.
How can we create the healing power of “Island Time” in our daily lives?