Sitting on the floor while eating is an ancient culture of many Asian countries like India, Japan, China, etc. because it is considered very healthy for the mind and body.
1. It's Yoga!
The Indian practice of sitting on the floor while eating is done in a cross-legged position – an Asanacalled Sukhasana which is a bit similar to Padmasana. This posture allows the mind to calm down and applies the pressure to the lower spine which facilitates relaxation. Our breathing slows down, muscular tension releases and blood pressure also subsides. From the perspective of the Ayurveda, all these things combine to have a very positive effect on the proper digestion of the food we eat.
2. Helps to improve digestion
The cross-legged position facilitates the blood flow towards the abdomen region of our body which eases the digestive process. When we eat from a plate placed on the floor, we have to naturally bend forward slightly to put the food in our mouth and go back to our starting position to swallow. This constant back and forth movement cause the muscles of our abdomen to be activated and also leads to increased secretion of stomach acids, making it much easier for our body to digest the food thoroughly. Optimal digestion of food is the key to a healthy body.
3. Controls the excessive consumption and aids in weight-loss
If the stomach is stuffed excessively then there will be no movement of the food particles. The digestive juices will be secreted beyond the requisite content and it results in acidity. We should always keep some empty space in our stomach which aids in proper digestion of the food. Sitting down will help in reducing the stomach space by nearly half i.e your upper part of the stomach gets compressed naturally. Thus you will ideally eat only half of what you would have eaten if you had used a table-chair. You will know when you are full and which is very important for weight management.
4. Makes you more flexible
When you squat or sit in this position the muscles in your lower back, pelvis, around your stomach and those of the upper and lower abdomen stretch – reducing pain and discomfort. This, in turn, helps your digestive system relax and stay in a normal position. The regular stretching of these essential muscles also helps make you more flexible and healthy.
5. Aids in mindful eating
Eating food while concentrating on every aspect of the food, its smell, taste, texture and how much you are eating is very important to the whole experience of eating. Which is what sitting on the floor and eating gives you. Since your mind is calm and your body is ready to accept the nutrition by secreting the digestive juices/acid, it not only helps you focus on your food but also helps you make better choices when you eat.
6. Improves body posture
Sitting cross-legged in itself is an Asana, meaning a posture. When we sit on the floor our posture is automatically corrected, making our back straight, lengthening our spine and pushes back our shoulders, beating all the common aches and pains that come with bad posture. Posture is very important when it comes to staying healthy. Good posture not only helps prevent injuries but it also reduces the chances of excessive strain on certain muscles and joints, which can lead to fatigue and quicker than normal wear and tear.
7. Keeps knee and hip joints healthy
Cross-legged position or Sukhasana is one pose that has health benefits for your entire body. Constant bending of the knees, ankles and hip joint helps keep them flexible and free of diseases. With flexibility comes better lubrication between the joints making it much easier to sit on the floor. It helps keep your joints supple, flexible and less prone to injuries and degenerative diseases like arthritis and osteoporosis.
8. Makes heart stronger and improves circulation
When we sit on the floor, our heart gets the benefits of easy circulation of the blood, as the blood is easily pumped through the heart to all the organs needed for digestion. When we sit on the dining table and chair, the more blood flows to the legs as they are at a much lower level than the heart. Thus, it helps the heart to work harder to maintain the blood flow. Therefore, sitting on the floor leads to a healthy heart by reducing the excess pressure on it while eating.
9. It is humbling
Sitting on the floor can give you a brand new, humble and grateful perspective on others, the world and yourself. There is a reason monks meditate on the floor and not in chairs. It is simply easier to be grounded and connected with the spiritual side of life.
In some cultures eating while sitting on the floor is considered demeaning. I have no right and intention to judge the cultures, but I personally think sitting on the floor while eating, keeps you rooted in the earth.