Sitting on the floor is a part of many cultures across the globe. While in India people sit cross-legged on the floor (called sukhasana in Yoga), in Japan the formal way to sit is called seiza, where the person rests their hips on their heels with the knees on the floor.
Sitting on the floor is often said to be better than sitting on a chair. However, doing so for longer periods can create pressure on the lower back, called the lumbar region of the spine, especially in those who experience lower back pain. You should not sit on the floor if your doctor has advised you not to. If you are fit to do so, here are the benefits you can receive from sitting on the floor:
1. Sitting on the floor improves posture
Sitting on the floor supports your body to fix your posture. It helps in straightening your spine and back by pushing your shoulders back. Sitting on the floor encourages you to stabilize your core thus alleviating back pain. The cross-legged sitting pose brings natural curvature both at the upper and lower back, thus effectively stabilising the lower back and pelvic region.
2. Increased muscle activity even while sitting
Those who sit on a chair for a long time tend to have postural problems such as slipped disk and lower back pain. However, sitting postures like kneeling and squatting, are called active rest positions as they require continuous use of the lower limb muscles.
3. Sitting on the floor improves flexibility
When you sit on the floor, the muscles in the lower half of your body get stretched thus increasing the flexibility of your body and providing strength to your legs. Sitting helps in stretching the hips, legs, pelvis, and spine thus promoting natural flexibility in the body.
4. Sitting on the floor improves digestion
Sukhasana, a yoga posture where the person sits down on the floor with legs crossed, helps in improving the digestion process. While we place our plate on the ground to eat food, we have to move our body slightly forward to eat and then we come back to our original position. The repeated action of moving the body results in stimulation of the abdominal muscles which, in turn, increases the secretion of digestive enzymes in the stomach, allowing the food to get digested better.
5. Sitting on the floor helps in relaxation of the mind
The sitting poses padmasana and sukhasana are the ideal positions for meditation. These poses help in relieving stress from the mind. It is believed that sitting in these poses can increase the flow of oxygen in the body.
6. Sitting increases life expectancy
You will be amazed to know that sitting on the floor can add a few more years to your life. According to a study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, people who sat on the floor in the cross-legged position (padmasana) ane were able to get up without any support are more likely to live longer. The reason behind this was that it takes a good deal of strength and flexibility to get up from that position.
For more information, read our article on Exercises to improve your posture.
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