Dr Zaida Rivene Chiropractor, Naturopath, Gerson Practitioner

Winter Lifestyle, by Jim Montrose, Ayurvedic Specialist

Live the Season


winter night

Your Body in Winter

Winter is the time of dark. It is a good time to face your own darkness and the physical and mental triggers it provokes. This is the ideal time to create and develop new habits. It is natural to hibernate and sleep longer, the digestion is activated and is stronger which allows us to eat more heavy warming food and help us with winter’s less active lifestyle.

It’s a great time to relax, enjoy, plan for next year’s renewal during spring and set your aspirations for the spring thaw. The cold, dark, and rainy days can make you sluggish and drive you to cuddle up in bed. It’s very important to bundle up and stay warm; consider wearing a hat to stop the great loss of heat from the exposed head.

Stay connected with friends and loved ones to stay lively and emotionally involved. Rest, reflection and slowing down are the order of the day. This is an ideal time to contemplate and soul-search.

Eating a healthy diet based on Ayurvedic principles helps us appreciate the winter — a season of bountiful vegetables, hot beverages, and traditional sweets.

The drop in the temperature intensifies the digestive fire (jatharagni in Ayurveda) which helps in digesting foods rich in fats, proteins, and complex carbohydrates.

Winter Dosha

Wintertime is particularly challenging for our physical and mental strength. Many of the season’s symptoms, such as the common cold, cough and shortness of breath are caused by the accumulation of too much Vata and Kapha.

The Vata winter (dry, cold, isolated, and rough) is less aggravating when antidoted with the opposite characteristics; that is to keep warm, hydrated, moisturized (great time for sesame oil massage), and connect with others and be aware that it affects Vata decisiveness and anxiety so do a few alternate nostril breaths,  make decisions anyways, and reduce stress.

Additional tips: slow down, follow a schedule for stability, time away from devices, warm baths, or saunas, spend time in sun daily, if possible, in morning hours. A light slow paced 30–40-minute strengthening and stretching routine is great for exercise. Exercise from 6am to 10am (Kapha time). It is important to balance out the Vata dosha otherwise you’ll end up feeling isolated and depressed. Continue to socialize to avoid isolation.

The Kapha winter (cold, wet, dark, heavy, and sluggish), what we are experiencing right now at the ranch, is less aggravated by emphasizing characteristics of staying active, waking up, keeping the digestion high with bhastirki breath, pungent spices, and avoid real heavy mucous producers like dairy, cheese, meat, refined sugars, etc.

Additional tips: follow an organized routine, stick to daily goals, do some exercise, and occasionally, give yourself freedom to break your routine, and spend time in the morning sun. The Kapha can benefit from long invigorating and challenging workouts. Exercise from 6am to 10am (Kapha time). Winter’s lethargy needs to be balanced with activity.

Braving the winter season

Rich foods, shallow breathing and lack of fluid circulation can cause buildup of toxins. Chilled to the bone, Vata types might become too deficient and vulnerable to disease and flu. Kapha types might overshoot their need to build protective layers of fat, creating ripe conditions for thick mucus and feeling sleepy. Winter is often accompanied with the flu, nausea and a Kapha type acid reflux. Late Winter can lead to over buildup of mucus and toxins if we eat too richly and overdo sweets.

Read on to learn how to embrace simple hacks that keep you warm, focused, healthy, and productive this winter with a balancing daily routine.

To learn more about your own dosha take our constitution self-quiz  to get a rough idea of your dosha. For help with a health issue or to get a clearer picture of your innate constitution and the current state you are displaying, schedule a constitution pulse exam with Jim, call 071 959 0786 now.

Daily Routine for Winter

Maintaining a predictable routine will balance Vata as well as Kapha. Kapha’s can benefit from keeping things fresh and a bit unpredictable occasionally, so do your best to strike an appropriate balance for yourself.

Certain parts of your day—like the times that you rise, work, eat, and sleep—can easily be consistent from one day to the next, while other times of day can provide for some variation and spontaneity.

  • Start your day with a short active morning routine. Meditate and exercise a little to connect and release happiness and reduce cortisol.
  • Shake off any sluggishness with some morning exercise or yoga.
  • Do some Bhastriki breathing to stay warm and keep digestion active.
  • You will feel fresher and more motivated if you are up before or by sunrise.
  • Start with a cup of warm water and lemon to start the digestion system and have your first bowel movement.
  • Brush your teeth and scrape your tongue.
  • Do a warm oil massage with the oil of your choice. This is especially enjoyed by Vata’s. Shower and prepare for your day. This will hydrate the skin and improve circulation, helps remove fat, improves digestion, and reduces the lethargy which is common in winter.
  • Use the small finger to insert a little sesame oil into the nasal passages to awaken the mind and lubricate the respiratory passages.
  • Dress in bright, warm colors and cover your head to reduce loss of body heat.
  • Skip daytime napping: the long, dark, evening hours provide a perfect atmosphere for you to relax and unwind.
  • Your body may benefit from a little more sleep in the winter.
  • Plan on retiring around 9 p.m. t o10 p.m. A little scalp massage and foot massage before bed can help facilitate sleep.

Review the Red Roan Ranch Lifestyle Plan patients receive in our Ayurvedic Consultation. Schedule an Ayurvedic Exam today with Jim.

Diet recommended during winter.

One should take digestible foods like barely, wheat, rice, and millet. Mung beans are good and easy to digest for a little protein.  Add fresh amla to diet for an immune boost and Vata balance. Include ginger, basil, asafoetida, cardamom, cinnamon, turmeric, cumin, fennel, clove, pepper, nutmeg, pipali or black pepper, lemon, and garlic to diet. See last month’s diet and food recommendations for more recommendations.



In Ayurveda we balance through the opposites, the Vata winter will be less aggravating if you fill it with warmth, oiliness, deep nourishment, loving relationships, and a sense of stability, routine, rest, and staying grounded to counter the Vata characteristics of cool, dry, light, airy and chaotic/active. Vata especially needs an organized routine with space to rest, de-stress and cultivate peace.

A Vata balancing diet will lubricate the joints, oil the body, reduce joint pain, increase digestion, improve heat as well as food satisfaction (succulent, oily/creaminess), ground the Vata in her/his hibernation and slowing down. Remember the Vata thrives on regularity and a consistent mealtime that is calm and peaceful will help the Vata in the winter.


The Kapha winter likewise is less aggravating if we fill it with its opposites of warmth, dryness, light but nourishing meals, and invigorating activity to balance Kapha’s cold, wet, or humid, heaviness and sluggishness.

A balanced Kapha diet will help with lubrication of joints, softness of the skin and immunity. However, excess of this dosha leads to dullness, weight gain, mucus-related illnesses, and negative emotions. Eat in a serene peaceful environment and take the time to enjoy your meal.

General Winter Practices for all body types

Slow down, put empty space in your schedule to let metabolism slow, reduce stress and cultivate peace. Reflect and meditate. Natural time to sleep more.

Keep your routine steady to heal body and let minds unwind. Organized routines help Vata’s and Kapha’s in winter. Kapha’s need a little freedom occasionally to break monotony.

Sun’s energy and light is very beneficial in wintertime (in morning without sunglasses).

Use bright colors to liven the darker days and colorful food to insure a range of nutrients and spark appetite.

Oils applied on the body and with food help lubricate and keep skin moist.


A few tonics for winter, note these will usually work for all body types. Pitta’s may need to limit the more heating spices like black pepper and ginger.

Spices to keep warm (cinnamon, turmeric, cloves, and black pepper).

Spices to lessen mucus, running noses and sore throats (honey, cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, and ginger).

Herbs for general colds (honey, turmeric, ginger, and black pepper)

Winter Spices

Ajwan V↓K↓P↑  increases agni (digestive strength)

Black Pepper V↓K↓P↑ reduces obesity, improves circulation and respiration.

Bay Leaf V↓K↓P↑ causes sweat, ↑agni, and is diuretic (releasing water).

Cinnamon V↓K↓P↑ eliminates ama, improves circulation.

Fenugreek V↓K↓P↑ for bronchitis, arthritis, respiratory issues.

Garlic V↓K↓P↑ colds, coughs.

Mint   V↑K↓P↑ respiratory assistance.

Nutmeg V↓K↓ calms mind and helps sleep, assimilation, and gas.

Parsley VV↓K↓P↑ good for stagnation (Kapha)

Pomegranate Balances all doshas – circulation, digestion, chronic bronchitis.

Rose Flowers Balances all doshas and are good for diseases and circulation.

Saffron Balances all doshas and is good for circulation, reproduction, nerves.


Warming moisturizing and grounding anti-Vata diet for cold, dry weather with foods that feel nurturing, succulent, and heavy.

Anti-Kapha diet for watery and damp weather with meals that are warm, light, and slightly dry.

Ayurvedic winter diet aims to pacify both Vata and Kapha in winters. Pittas often enjoys more freedom but can benefit from warmer, heavier, nurturing meals also. Use Pitta foods as main ingredients and spices.

Here are some diet tips to keep yourself warm this winter.

  1. Eat warm, lightly spiced, and cooked food.
  2. Include nuts and dried fruit like almonds, cashews, pistachios, walnuts, and dates.
  3. Use herbs to heat, warm, and excite the tastes asafoetida basil, cardamom, carrom seeds, cinnamon, clove, cumin, fennel, ginger, lemon, mustard seed, nutmeg, pepper, and turmeric.
  4. Mung, lentils, chickpeas, and aduki beans are easy to digest.
  5. Natural cold-pressed oils, mustard, coconut, sesame or any other depending upon the geographical region. Ghee clarified butter.
  6. Vegetables like beets, carrots, green like fenugreek, spinach, radishes, and onions.
  7. Fruits like papaya, banana, apple, and pomegranate.
  8. Avoid heavily processed, chemical-laden, and packaged food.
  9. Avoid cold drinks, artificial beverages, and ice creams.

Cooking the Ayurvedic Way

Include — the six tastes in every meal, namely, sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent. Emphasize the seasons tastes (sour, salty, sweet and some pungent) to avoid imbalances,

  1. Include a variety of green vegetables, root/tubers, and seasonal vegetables like fresh turmeric root in your diet.
  2. Boil dried ginger, cinnamon, clove, and peppercorns for five minutes. Bring it to room temperature, add ½ tsp of honey and drink.
  3. Eat a piece of jaggery at the end of the meal.
  4. Rice and vegetables with or without dal are filling and satisfying for winter. Kitchari is also very nice in the wintertime. Cumin and fenugreek are nice seasoning for winter.

Mung Bean Soup with Vegetables

1 cup mung beans or dahl

5 cups of water

¼ inch (.7cm) slice ginger

1 tsp brown or black mustard seeds

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

1⁄2 tsp fennel seeds

1⁄2 tsp (fenugreek) seeds

4 curry leaves (opt.)

1 clove garlic

1 carrot

1 stalk celery

1 med. tomato

1 leek

1 tsp turmeric

For the final broth

1 tsp ghee

1⁄2 tsp cumin seeds

1⁄2 tsp coriander seeds

1/4 tsp hing

1 tsp salt

2 tsp lemon

2 tbsp fresh coriander (dahnia)


1.Finely grind the coriander, cumin, fennel, and fenugreek seeds. Finely chop or grate the ginger. Grate or finely dice the vegetables.

  1. Heat the ghee. Sauté the mustard seeds first 1 minute, then add the mortared spices. Add the ginger, curry leaves and shortly and fry until flavors are released.
  2. Add the vegetables and mung beans to the spice stock and fry briefly. Stir in turmeric and add the water, bring to the boil and simmer on low heat for about 1 hour.
  3. just before the end, heat some more ghee in a small extra pan, add the whole coriander and cumin seeds, add asafoetida, and chopped fresh coriander and roast briefly. Add to the dal and season with salt and lemon juice.


Rosemary Ginger Sweet Potato Tomato Soup

1kg Roma (or standard) tomatoes

½ med. Onion

4 clove garlic

3 – ¼ in ( .6 cm) slices ginger

1-2 Tbs fresh rosemary

¼ cauliflower head

1 whole sweet potato jewel (orange color – yam in the US)

1 Tbs chipotle chili sauce

Opt. salt to taste

1 Tbsp Cumin


Bring 1 -2 Tbs coconut oil to heat in soup pot.

Add spices (onion, garlic, ginger, cumin) and fry to release flavor for 1-2 minutes.

Add in 3 tomatoes sliced, cauliflower chopped, and sweet potato sliced. Cook until coated with oil and spices about 5 minutes.

Add water to cover, bring to a boil. Turn down to simmer until vegetables get soft after 15 minutes.

Blend smooth.

Add 1 Tbs coconut oil to a fry pan and add remainder of tomatoes chopped into 1 in squares (2.5 cm) and cook until soft, about 5 minutes at medium heat.

Add to blended soup and cook an additional 10 minutes and serve. Enjoy!

Controlling Mucus

Put a little warm sesame oil into both the nostril with your little finger or a Q-tip to remove accumulated Kapha and toxin from the head and neck region. It helps to moisturize the nasal passage. It is good for sinusitis, bronchitis, allergies, and nasal congestion, which is common in winter. This pacifies the Vata dosha.


Yoga to enhance energy levels.

Yoga postures are the most inexpensive source of building energy, deep relaxation and rejuvenation to the body. Yoga increases ‘prana’ or life force energy in the body.

Enhance your energy levels by practicing these simple yoga postures and feel the difference for yourself.

Sun Salutation according to body’s types is great all-round routine.

Locust Posture massages and tones abdominal organs and improves digestion.

Warrior pose strengthens and tones the arms, legs, and lower back.

Bridge pose unblocks the flow of energy along the spine and reduces anxiety, stress, and depression.

Dolphin Plank pose helps tone the abdominal muscles and effectively relieves the body of headache, fatigue, and back-ache. Relieves menstrual discomfort.

Alternate Nostril Breathing energizes the body and calm the mind, helps most circulatory and respiratory and harmonizes the left and right hemispheres of the brain. It also reduces accumulated stress and boosts energy levels.

Walking is always a good exercise any time of year, just stay warm. Remember the exercise that you like and do regularly is better than the “best” type. What’s important is to move daily according to your body needs (more for Kapha, less for Pitta and Vata, get an Ayurveda consultation for more information).

Life is based on cycles of rest and activity. Without balance between these two, regardless of the season, we pay dearly in terms of health, happiness, and longevity. Winter rest is a great time to reset the connection between your biological clocks and nature’s circadian rhythms, by going to bed earlier and waking as the sun rises. The additional rest also boosts our immune system and prepares us for greater productivity in the new year.

Have a warm, restful winter!

Jim Montrose, Ayurvedic Lifestyle Specialist, +27 71 959 0786

Jim Montrose

Ayurvedic Specialist, Living Wholeness Ayurveda, +27 (0)71 959 0786

Living Wholeness Ayurveda

P,S. – For further help – Check out the free resources and articles on wellness based beliefs and purpose and other topics.

Copyright Jim Montrose, July 2023

Follow Jim Montrose


0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

© Copyright - Dr Zaida Rivene

From the N2 (Cape Town towards George) Take the first Swellendam exit (left). This is the R60. Proceed (1km+) through the 4 way stop and continue approximately 2-3 km and look for a sign for the Hermitage. Make a hard right (270 degrees). After the turn continue about 200 meters and turn left at first road (dirt). Proceed 300 meters and turn left into Red Roan Ranch and go to bottom of hill (the main house).

(Coming from George to Cape Town) Take the third exit (R60) right. Proceed (1km+) through the 4 way stop and continue approximately 2-3 km and look for a sign for the Hermitage. Make a hard right (270 degrees). After the turn continue about 200 meters and turn left at first road (dirt).  Proceed 300 meters and turn left into Red Roan Ranch and go to bottom of hill (the main house).

GPS:  S34 degrees 01.367 minutes, E020 degrees 25.193 minutes. Note most GPS units (Garmin, etc.) have the wrong coordinates for Red Roan Ranch.

Call if you have trouble 071 959 0786 or 083 290 1283