In countries like India, Japan, and China, eating while seated on the floor serves as a habit, ritual, and wellness practice all in one. Resting in Sukhasana, or “easy” pose, forces you to sit taller with every bite, and improves mobility in the hips and ankles. But there’s yet another reason why you might want to take a seat on the floor before dinner no matter where you call home. In ancient Ayurvedic medicine, it’s believed to prime your digestion.
The reason why sitting on the floor is so great for your gut comes down to (are you surprised?) the core. Ayurvedic medicine posits that the crisscrossed position makes you use your midsection to lean forward to take a bite. That tiny bit of core work encourages the stomach muscles to gently contract and expedite the process of your meal moving from your mouth to your stomach and to… other places.
Beyond that, yogic tradition teaches that Sukhasana is a pose of rest and relaxation. This is an asset when you’re sitting down to eat your vegan tacos or “fat” salad because a wealth of scientific research has linked the slow, deliberate breathing associated with feeling extra-chill to better digestive health. And the same logic extends to all your meals. So, at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, just think: Calm! Cool! Collected! Core! and you’ll already be doing your digestion a solid.
Even once all the plates have been cleared, it’s worth continuing the core work after dinner. Gastroenterologist Niket Sonpal, MD, says that core workouts outpace all the others when it comes to dealing with constipation (a problem quarantine has brought on for the best of us). “When you exercise, you’re jostling around and you’re also contracting those core muscles, which helps push the poop forward,” he says
In order to promote better digestion at every meal, you should sit on the ground, thank your plate of food, engage your core, and try to relax. It has worked for thousands of years throughout the world—and it might just work for you, too.
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