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Coffee – An Ayurvedic Perspective

Ayurveda considers coffee to be both medicine for some and poison for others, at certain times and in certain situations. Energetically, coffee is hot, light and dry in quality, a carrier of the Air and Fire elements, and produces a stimulatory effect on the stomach. Because of its Vata and Pitta increasing effects, a cup of joe is helpful for balancing Kapha (Earth and Water)-types and Kapha conditions. It encourages the emptying of the stomach and stimulates bile secretion, lowering appetite and stimulating the intestines to get moving! All these effects are helpful for the sluggish and congested Kapha body.

Here are some things to consider as you think through Coffee for your daily lifestyle:

  1. Coffee depletes the body of vital energy. According to Ayurveda, coffee causes vital energy in the body to move upwards (Udana Vayu) and outwards (Vyana Vayu), depleting the body of the sustenance and nourishment of this energy (Ojas). This torrent of energy moving up, towards the head and out of the body sends the nervous system into fight-or-flight mode and produces the ever-reliable, post-caffeine crash when the the body finds itself depleted of its vitality and life-force.
  2. Understand the affect of coffee on your particular Dosha type. A cup of coffee gives you a hefty dose of air and fire elements, and it will cause both vata (Air and Space) and pitta (Fire and Water) to increase. Kapha (Earth and Water) dosha? Lucky you. You’re the least likely to experience negative effects from coffee. In fact, the bitter and astringent qualities are balancing for you, and on most days, the buzz will help you feel more motivated.
  3. Get your fix before 10:00 am. The best time of day to drink coffee is between 6 am and 10 am, when the “cool, heavy, earthy” qualities of the kapha dosha make us feel a little sluggish, says Kathryn. Coffee’s heating, stimulating qualities can counterbalance that sluggishness by stimulating the mind and agni (digestive fire).
  4. Add Cardamom to Your Coffee. Cardamom is a vata anuloman, which means it redirects the energy and movement of vata or the vayus, specifically directing energy downward (apana vayu). This allows for more of a grounding effect and will negate the anxious feelings that coffee otherwise brings. It also has a cooling energy, which helps to soothe coffee’s tendency to increase pitta in the body.

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