My interest in Japanese culture (not to mention my almost unhealthy adoration for sushi) has allowed me to study Japanese eating habits and traditions. I could start conversations about the merits of a Japanese diet and all their dining intricacies, their tea ceremonies, and so on, but I choose instead to start from the ground up (literally).
After all, not until recently, the countries of the orient, African nations, and our very middle east have always sat on the ground to have their meals. With all the merits of floor dining, it is sad that the world’s fascination with the west has led to the adoption of the chair and the dining table, probably in an attempt to look more civilized.
Food remains central in our lives however. We eat for nourishment and pleasure. Our social lives are centered around the table. And our economies are driven by our physical hunger.
There is an art to dining. Perhaps, it would be wise to re-adopt some of the eating traditions that we once had as a culture.
Let me begin first by introducing some of the postures that can be adopted for sitting on the floor:
1. Sukhasana/Cross Legged Pose
2. Vajrasana: Kneeling pos
3. Half vajrasana
The science of dining on the floor proves the benefits that will win you over:
A. Promotes Excellent Posture: Especially if you’ve been practicing floor sitting and are flexible enough, the posture is instantly corrected as seen through a lengthening of the spine and a squeeze of the shoulders backwards.
B. Aids in Digestion: The concentration of blood in the abdomen area means the body responds faster to the need of digestive juices necessary for digestion.
C. Helps you feel full faster: Because your thighs are closer to your abdomen (especially in kneeling position), you naturally feel full faster.
D. Keeps Joints mobile/ Prevents Arthritis: The flexion (bending) of the knees, ankles, and hips forces these joints to be constantly lubricated. Also, these joints become rested from the stack load that they receive while standing. The transition from sitting to standing to sitting again ensures that these joints remain mobile and flexible.
E. Keeps Muscles active: A chair encourages you to fully depend your body weight on the piece of furniture. You are less active in the pose, so your shoulders round and your belly muscles relax encouraging your spine to hunch forward. Sitting on the floor however requires your active participation, so the muscles of the abdomen, legs, back, and hips are included in the activity.
F. Prevents Varicose Veins: In standing or chair-sitting positions (where the legs are lower than the hip region), gravity automatically directs the blood flow towards the feet. And unless the feet are in motion, the blood has a difficult time making its way back to the heart. This lack of flow, causes small blood clots that look like red threadlike spider webs on the back of the calf muscles, better known as varicose veins. Sitting down forces the blood to concentrate in the abdomen region, hence closer to the heart.