4 Ayurvedic tips to clear congestion

Shift lingering coughs, colds and congestion with these Ayurvedic-inspired tips.

Recently my husband had a cough that just wouldn’t seem to go and all around me people were sneezing and feeling congested. So I put together a few quick Ayurvedic-inspired ideas which helped us shift our lingering coughs, and clear our colds and congestion.

Kapha imbalance and congestion

You might be prone to more coughs and congestion in your chest if you have an imbalance of Kapha dosha. So what does that mean? Kapha is one of the three doshas in Ayurveda along with Vata and Pitta. The doshas are the physiological and psychological tendencies in all of us. Most people have a dominant dosha (or two) and that’s normal, but sometimes they can get out of balance and that’s when health problems can show themselves. 

Learn more about the doshas and do a quick dosha test.

The Kapha dosha is made up of the elements of water and earth. Mix those qualities in real life and you get mud. If Kapha is in excess and you mix earth and water in your body you get mucous – congestion.

The Kapha dosha is made up of the water and earth elements. Mix those qualities in real life and you get mud.

Kapha season

Different times of year also correspond to different doshas so even if you are more a Vata or Pitta type you may still experience and imbalance of Kapha. Kapha season is late winter, the beginning of spring. The weather has still felt a bit like that here lately so maybe that’s one reason everyone was feeling a bit that way!

In Ayurveda you treat an imbalance with its opposite. With a Kapha imbalance this means you should incorporate warmth, dryness, lightness and mobility in your life.

Some tips for Kapha imbalance:

1. Exercise every day

Yoga, of course, is what I would recommend, but it can be anything like walking, running, swimming and cycling. Even just increasing your everyday movements can help – like housework or playing with the kids. If you want to practise yoga to balance the Kapha dosha try these two classes (for members).

2. Use warm spices

Add spices to your food like cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, cayenne and ginger with very little dairy, nuts, or added fats. We do this to add heat and to spark Agni, the all-important digestive fire. Foods that are dry, warm and spicy clear congestion and keep things moving. So eat less raw fruit and salads, heavier foods and cold foods in general if your Kapha is out of balance.

For more on eating right for your doshas follow Irina Verwer’s program Ayurveda: Yoga and Diet

3. Drink warm drinks

Sip warm water instead of cold water. Make a warming tea by adding tiny bit of cayenne pepper, ginger, lemon juice to hot water. Add some honey to taste.

You can also try my turmeric and ginger tea recipe 

4. Use a neti-pot

Neti is a practice of cleansing the nasal cavities using a solution of warm water and salt. This helps to clear congestion. Read Andrew Wrenn’s article on How to use a neti pot for more information on how to do that, plus a demonstration.

Following these tips might just help shake off that cough or the dripping nose that seems to linger and linger.

If you have any more tips, please leave a comment below.

With love,


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Esther EkhartEsther Ekhart, face and founder of EkhartYoga, brings years of personal yoga and meditation practice, therapy training and study of yoga philosophy into her teaching.