In many Indian households, one comes across people sitting on the floor and eating their meals. In contemporary times we have transformed to the table and chair and prefer to sit in front of the TV or sit on the bed and eat. While this might be very comfortable, it might not necessarily be the best thing for your health. Our ancestors made sure that we sat on the floor, cross legged and ate our food. As we go back to our roots, there are of course many reasons why it is good for health.
When we sit on the floor, we usually sit cross legged — an asana known as sukhasana or a half padmasna, which are poses that help in digestion (it is believed that when one sits in this pose in front of food, it automatically signals your brain to prepare for digestion).
Sitting on the floor and eating has significant weight loss benefits too. When you sit in this position, your brain automatically calms down and is better equipped to focus on the food you eat. Moreover this position helps you cognate the amount of food you have eaten and helps you feel full faster. This happens because the vagus nerve (the main nerve that transmits signals from the stomach to the brain) sends signals to the brain as you eat, telling it if you are satiated or not.
When one squats or sits in a padmasana, the muscles in your lower back, pelvis, around your stomach and those of the upper and lower abdomen stretch, thereby reducing pain and discomfort. This, in turn, helps the digestive system to be relaxed and stay in a normal position. Moreover, this position does not compress the stomach in anyway, helping you eat and digest better.
When sitting on the floor and eating with one’s family, it aids in mindful eating. Not only does it help focus on food, but it also helps in making better choices while eating. Since the mind is calm and the body is ready to accept nutrition, sitting on the floor is the best way to eat the right amount and kinds of food.
The practice of sitting on the floor and eating is a family activity. These times are great for you to bond. One of the reasons sitting on the floor is better at bonding is because it leads to a calm and happy mind, thus helping you to listen more intently and peacefully.
This sounds a bit unbelievable, right? Well, it’s true. Sitting on the floor and eating can actually help to live longer. A study published in the ‘European Journal of Preventive Cardiology’ found that people who sat on the floor in padmasana and were able to get up without any support were more likely to live longer.
Healthy Knees & Hips
Padmasana and sukhasana are poses that have health benefits to the entire body. Not only do they help the digestive system function better, but also help in keeping the joints supple, flexible and less prone to injuries and degenerative diseases like arthritis and osteoporosis. This is because the constant bending of the knees, ankles and hip joint helps keep them flexible and free of diseases. And with flexibility comes better lubrication between the joints, making it much easier to sit on the floor.
Relaxed Mind & Calm Nerves
Sitting cross legged as in sukhasana and padmasana on the floor while eating has a number of benefits, most significant being that it calms the mind and relaxes frazzled nerves. A very handy tool, it is believed in Ayurveda that eating with a calm mind helps better digestion and in some cases has even helped people relish food better.
Better Blood Circulation
It is noticed that while eating, one tends to feel warmer and in some cases even sweat. Well, that is because when we eat our stomach needs all the energy it can use to digest food. One of digestion’s most important elements is a sound blood circulation. To keep up with this process, the heart tends to work overtime to help out the digestive system. When sitting on the floor while having meals, the heart gets the benefits of circulation as the blood is easily pumped through the heart to all the organs needed for digestion. This is in contrast to the pattern of circulation while sitting on a dining table and chair, wherein the blood flows to the legs as they are lower than the heart. Therefore sitting on the floor and eating, gives a healthy heart with strong muscles to help it cope with the pressures of daily life.