While sitting, relaxed, at the dining table might be very comfortable, it isn’t necessarily the best thing for your health. We spend a lot of our time sitting at work, and we return home whilst sitting in the car or on a public transport only to find ourselves sitting yet again to have dinner. But most Japanese families have their meals while sitting on the floor, and you most likely won’t find chairs, even in 5-star restaurants in Japan.
We were surprised to find out that people in Japan eat while sitting on the floor, and it’s not just because Japanese homes are typically very small. In fact, this habit has so many health benefits you might want to give it a try.
1. It helps digestion.
When you sit on the floor with your legs crossed and eat, you are effortlessly doing yoga at the same time. This cross-legged position is called “easy” pose, or sukhasana, and it’s believed to increase blood flow to the stomach, helping you to digest food easily and to get the most vitamins and nutrients. When you bend forward to take food from your plate and then go back to the starting position to swallow it, you are strengthening muscles in your abdomen, which, in turn, can prevent bloating.
2. It may help you lose weight.
Sitting on the floor while eating helps your vagus nerve to function better. When your digestive system releases a hormone called leptin, it sends a signal to the vagus nerve that you’re full, and the proper function of this nerve can prevent you from overeating.
3. It makes you more flexible.
While sitting on a chair for too long may cause your back to hurt and eventually strain the discs in the spine, sitting on the floor stretches your knees and hips. Because this position helps you to sit taller with every bite you take, it prevents you from slouching and makes your back and shoulders stronger.
4. It may help you live longer.
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If you can easily rise from a cross-legged position without any support, chances are you might live longer. Turns out, sitting on the floor while eating and getting up several times a day is one of the simplest ways to add extra years to your life.
5. It keeps your joints healthy.
When you’re sitting in a chair for a long time, it makes your hips stiff. Sitting on the floor, however, allows you to stretch your hips and ankles, making your joints more flexible. Some sitting postures, like kneeling and squatting, make your muscles work even when you’re resting, as they encourage you to engage the muscles that are not active when you’re sitting in a chair.
6. It improves your posture.
When a chair doesn’t support your back, it encourages you to engage your core muscles, which in turn benefits your posture. However, make sure to avoid slouching, because that may lead to back pain.
7. It calms your mind.
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Doing yoga while eating also quiets your mind. When your mind is at peace, you can enjoy the food more and eat only until you’re full.
Have you ever tried eating while sitting on the floor?