Age-Proof Your Life with Ayurveda

Age-Proof Your Life with Ayurveda
Mellow kapha types are loving, forgiving, and supportive—and avoid conflict whenever they can. "Kaphas stay in relationships, jobs, and other situations long after they're nourishing just to avoid making waves," says Chopra's David Simon. "Physically, that translates into gaining weight more easily, a tendency toward diabetes, sinus problems, and possibly even congestive heart failure in the long run."

Get moving: The best medicine for a bogged–down kapha is daily vigorous exercise. "Kaphas tend to be lethargic–the key to offsetting that is to get the body moving," says Jessica Faulkner, certified Perfect Health instructor at the Chopra Center.

Shake your booty: Dance is a fun and motivating practice. "Kaphas love to move to music," Faulkner says. "It's soothing and invigorating." Running, aerobics, and vigorous yoga are other good choices, so long as you make an effort to do them every day.

Salute the sun: "Sun salutations are a great way to get into motion," Faulkner says. "We recommend doing 12 sets of the classic 12-position salute, moving at a rapid pace, not resting in between." For instructions for a set of sun salutations.

Eat spicy foods: To avoid gaining weight, stay away from heavy, thick or mucus-building foods like dairy, pasta, and sweets, says Jennifer Workman, M.S., R.D., an Ayurvedic dietitian and author of Stop Your Cravings (The Free Press, 2002). Instead, eat dry, light, fresh, and spicy foods—popcorn, salads, and fajitas. "Japanese food is the perfect cuisine for kaphas," she notes.

Add spices: Cinnamon, cloves, garlic, and ginger added to your diet can help balance and invigorate sluggish kapha. Whatever you do, don't eat a big supper late at night. "If you're eating at 9 at night, you can't digest it well, and you will gain weight," says John Douillard. Instead, he says, make breakfast and lunch your larger meals.

Breathe deeper: Rigidity is a problem for kapha dosha, especially as the body ages. To offset tightness in the chest, Douillard recommends doing a one-minute breath-oriented meditation several times a day to expand the rib cage and wake up mind and body. "It's very important to get air into the lower lobes of the lungs," he says. "That's where our calm receptors are."

Ease stress: To keep the chest open and the mind calm, he offers the following technique. "Sit upright, close your eyes, and breathe fast and deep using a forceful bellows breath through your nose for 30 seconds; focus on using the upper and lower rib cage as you breathe," he says. "Then simply sit with your eyes closed, breathe normally, and be still for another 30 seconds. Your brain will be oxygenated, your mind cleared, and your body energized. It's an amazingly fast and effective way to offset stress."

Take turmeric: Kaphas become sedentary and with that comes congestion. The antidote, says Douillard, is turmeric. "Turmeric will break up excess kapha, improve circulation, and loosen the muscles and joints, protecting against arthritis." Douillard recommends taking one 1000 mg capsule every morning.

Go with ginger: Ginger capsules can also dispel excess kapha, says Jay Apte, B.A.M.S., director of the Ayurvedic Institute of America. "Ginger improves digestion, and acts as a natural anti-inflammatory." Take a 500 mg capsule three times a day, or simply add fresh or ground ginger to your food several times a week. David Simon recommends sipping fresh ginger tea throughout the day to stimulate kapha.

Brush your body: To invigorate oily kapha skin, try dry brushing daily. "It's a great way to wake up your body," says Patricia Hansen. If you need extra moisture, use lightweight oils like sunflower oil, says Pratima Raichur, an Ayurvedic practitioner and author of Absolute Beauty (HarperPerennial, 1999). To invigorate the body with aromas, she says, add uplifting essential oils to the blend. "I use spicy oils like spearmint, clove, bergamot, and rosemary."