Ayurveda For Women -- 4 Childhood – The Kapha Age

Different stages of life are deeply influenced by each of the three doshas --- vata, pitta and kapha. Childhood is the first stage of life. It is governed by kapha dosh, irrespective of the gender.   Everything that a mother eats, drinks and does while the child is still in the womb, influences the child. The prakriti (innate nature) of any child has its roots in the relationship that develops between the child and the parents. It must be noted that the prakriti never changes.

Every young girl has experience right from her foetus stage, as an infant and as a young girl will be of sustaining nature. However, if a child is repeatedly confronted with situations that disturb her sense of security and self-worth, leads to the rise of undesirable patterns in metabolism and mind.

The Kapha Stage At A Glance

Time Frame:                     Approximately from Birth to Puberty
Main Elements:                Water and Earth
Qualities:                          Heavy, Slow, Cool, Oily, Smooth, Dense, Soft, Stable, Gross, Cloudy
Functions:                         Lubrication, Growth, Hydration, Nourishment

The Nature of Childhood
The relationship between Kapha and the childhood is very straight. As we know that childhood is about growth and building new tissues and rapidly increasing weight of the body as it grows, the human body needs a good amount of kapha in order to complete all these functions.

Kapha regulates extra fat, which provides the body sufficient energy during this growth period.  Therefore, a properly kapha nourished children are generally plump and have abundant body fat that is needed for the growth of her body. Vatta or Pita dominant children may have less body fat as compared to the kapha dominant children.

We know that it is the sun that cooks water and the soil into nutrients into plants. The sap  of the plants has its particular flavour. The organisms that eat these plants take on these flavours. Every individual has two types of rasas. The first one is physical rasa (derived from the juices and tastes that appear in the food) and the second one is mental juice which is derived from the emotions. It contributes to the overall ‘flavour’ of the person.  The most important influence on these juices, particularly, is the diet. A child is under the continual growth process, continually laying down physical and mental structures on which she relies for the remainder of her existence. Ayureda teaches that a person becomes as she eats.  When a child selects appropriate tastes in the food or drink ; it takes into the oneself, the juices that one’s mind, body and spirit produce after digestion make one satisfied and happy. When the internal space is filled with sweet juice it attracts external sweetness also. Food is not only the source of sweetness, but it is also the most crucial element for a healthy life.  It must be kept in mind that a healthy life develops from the sort of healthy flow that healthy food provides.

There are six types of tastes. These are sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent. The doshas depend on the type of taste which a person takes. Sweet is the kapha’s predominant taste. The child is basically sweet by nature therefore she is kapha-dominant.  It is the child’s prakriti or innate qualities that tell us a lot about the food preferences.

Toxins: Ama
Food is very important for children because the stomach is the body’s seat of kapha. Most of the maladies originate from it. When the food is not properly digested – it leads to the production of toxins which are also called ama in Ayurveda.  These toxins or ama upset the child’s tummy. These toxins lead to simple fever, respiratory diseases and asthma. When invaded by ama, a child loses her appetite and it can’t be regained until the child gets rid of it.

Ama is the cause of most of the diseases. And less it is allowed to collect, the better the health will be.

How to Keep a Newborn Healthy:

Massage is extremely beneficial for both the babies and the mothers. It stimulates the immune system and nervous systems and it also provides critical emotional nourishment. According to some researchers – The premature infants if given regular massage gain weight quickly thrive more efficiently as compared to their peers who do not receive massage.  Whatever the circumstances should be both the mother and the child must be massaged at least 40 days after the delivery.  Massage strengthens the baby’s skin and the nerves. It strengthens the skin, improves its colour and texture.

The milk that comes from the mother’s breast is idle for a baby. Science has shown that breastfeeding protects the child  against many potential diseases as gastro-enteritis, respiratory diseases, urinary-tract related diseases and many other diseases. Mother’s milk is the most preferred one. In case there is problem for mother’s milk than the pure milk should be given to the child.

Puberty and Menarche
The transition between childhood and adulthood is adolescence is the joint at which these two different stages of life meet. Childhood is dominated by kapha, adulthood by pitta and ‘joints’ by vata, there is chance of all the doshas going out of alignment.

Disclaimer:   This extract has been taken from the book ‘Ayurveda for Women’ by Dr. Robert E. Svoboda.

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