Chairs are a rather recent invention, the use of which has become part and parcel of daily life for people across the globe. Not just while working, people nowadays are accustomed to sitting around the dining room table or even on the couch for their meals.
But in the past, people sat or squatted on the floor while eating. Though not a common practice in Western countries, it continues even today in some cultures.
This ancient tradition has its roots in yoga and Ayurveda, and comes with science-backed health benefits, too.
If you are not very comfortable sitting on the floor, bring out some comfortable, rugs, pillows or cushions for sitting.
Here are some of the health benefits of sitting on the floor while eating.
1. Offers Benefits of Seated Yoga Poses
When you’re sitting on the floor eating your food, you are actually doing a kind of yoga pose. It might be Sukhasana, Swastikasana or Siddhasana.
Although these seated postures look simple and easy, practicing these poses with a clear intention offers many health benefits.
In Sukhasana (Easy, Cross-Legged Pose), you sit with your legs relaxed while lifting your spine and opening your chest. Your shins are kept virtually parallel, and your feet are underneath the opposite knees. This is a very stable pose for doing upper body work, such as shoulder rolls and neck stretches.
In fact, a well-aligned Sukhasana pose creates the conditions for a relaxed yet alert state in both the body and mind. As this pose takes a surprising amount of core strength, doing it repeatedly tones the entire circumference of your torso—front, sides and back.
Also, it helps ease muscle tension and open your root chakra.
To sum it up, when you sit in a Sukhasana pose and eat, you are multitasking – eating your food and doing yoga at the same time.
2. Improves Digestion
Sitting on the floor in a cross-legged position and eating your food is good for your digestive system.
The back-and-forth movement of bending forward to eat and returning to your natural sitting position helps abdominal muscles secrete digestive juices, which are needed for quick and proper digestion.
Plus, this sitting position allows the mind to calm down and applies pressure to the lower spine, which facilitates relaxation. Also, muscular tension releases and high blood pressure comes down.
According to Ayurveda, all these things work together to ensure proper digestion of the food you eat. Optimal digestion of food is the key to a healthy body.
3. Increases Life Span
Regularly standing up from a seated position on the floor without needing a hand can also help you live longer.
A 2012 study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology reports that the ability to stand up from a seated position on the floor without using any support correlates with a longer life expectancy.
According to the study, getting up from sitting position requires considerable flexibility and body strength, which are needed to avoid common accidents, injuries and falls.
If a person has difficulty standing up from a sitting position, he or she is 6.5 times more likely to die within the next six years. Study participants ranged in age from 51 to 80 years.
4. Improves Strength and Flexibility
Sitting on the floor in a cross-legged position also makes your body stronger and more flexible.
This sitting position stretches the hips, knees and ankles. It also increases flexibility throughout the spine, shoulders and chest, thus making you more flexible and able to ward off certain diseases.
This strength and flexibility helps you stand upright without slouching, as well as pick up heavy objects without hurting your back.
On the other hand, sitting in a chair for hours leads to weak, tight and sore lower back; weak abdominal muscles; and stiff, inflexible and aching hips, to name only a few.