This ancient medical system was created in India over 5000 years ago. Much like Chinese medicine, Ayurveda looked to the world surrounding us and found a correlation to each element within us. Space, Air, Fire, Water, Earth. We are created from the same elements as the earth. The great Ayurvedic rishis clearly saw that when we are in harmony with the elements, we are balanced, healthy, happy and productive.
But we are often out of balance, not moving in concert with our surroundings. Ayurveda gently brings us back into harmony by establishing balance in our mind/body constitution. Through food, exercise, meditation, and detoxifying practices, we come back to ourselves and establish perfect health.
Some Sanskrit is necessary to further explain. The five elements are the Maha Bhutas: Akash (space); Vayu (air); Tejas (fire); Jala (water); Prithivi (earth).
We are made up of a combination of these Maha Bhutas. These are called Doshas. Vata Dosha is akash and vayu. Pitta dosha is tejas and jala. Kapha dosha is jala and prithivi. Vata is dry and moves fast. Pitta is fiery and hot; Kapha is earthy and slow.
We are all made up from all three Doshas, but one or two usually predominate at certain times in our life.
We are born in a natural state of balance, which is called prakruti (also seen as prakriti). Prakruti is made up of the emotional, physical and spiritual state of our parents and our surroundings — probably with a bit of Karma thrown in. Pretty much from our first breath, we enter into a state imbalance, which is called our vikruti. Ayurveda helps us find our way back to our prakruti.