Ayurveda means the science of life. The foundation is on the elements and how the body relates to the environment around us. At least 5000 years ago, India's people recognized that our mind, body, and soul have the same balance as the earth. Our bodies run just like the seasons; Hot, Cold, Wet, Dry.
The basic concept is to balance the elements within; air, ether, fire, water, and earth. We can work on this by paying attention to the seasons and our bodies' needs at different times in our lives. A quick example would be during the summer months, if you run hot or have a Pitta constitution choose foods and practices that will cool you down rather than bring more heat and create an imbalance that could potentially manifest physically or emotionally.
What is dosha?
Three main doshas categorize the elements.
Vata: the definition is to change and has the air and ether elements. It represents hollow organs and chemical exchange.
Pitta: the definition is to focus and has the fire and water elements. It represents digestive organs, assimilation, and absorption of food.
Kapha: the definition is to nourish and has the water and earth elements. It represents the organs of the waterworks and all liquid exchange.
We have all three doshas and have one or two predominant, with some people having all three distributed equally. This unique constitution manifests during conception, based on our parents' particular doshas and the health state that they were at that moment. When we live in that state of balance that is incredibly unique to each of us, we are in optimal health. This system helps give us the tools that we need to get back on track when we experience imbalances. Multiple factors cause imbalances; environment, stress, low food combination, eating not according to our constitutions, excess, etc.
That is why nutrition is a vital component. Foods have inherent qualities and are recommended or discouraged based on how they support our different needs. Ayurvedic nutrition gifts us with a set of guidelines for tuning in to what is most appropriate for us at that specific moment in time. Common questions that we need to keep in consideration are; Where do we live? How old are we? What type of work do we do? If we add that information to our doshas and any other specific needs that we require at that moment, we can create a path towards wellness. Take a quick quiz to discover your dominant dosha; multiple sites offer one. Here is one that I have encountered and found helpful: Which Ayurvedic Type Are You?