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floor sitting, a humbling act with physical benefits

In many cultures, sitting on the floor is a way of life. At big family gatherings when I was little, we would all sit around a sofreh for dinner. The sofreh is a traditional Iranian table cloth, usually spread out on the floor in the living room over a carpet, where we would gather to indulge in a feast. Older guests were usually handed a pillow to get comfortable, using it in increasingly playful and creative ways as the night progressed. As we dined picnic style in the living room, we all became level with each other. Older guests next to younger guests, sprawled out in various shapes outlining the large, intricate cloth.

As a kid, I found sitting on the floor with adults riveting. It was something I never did at school or at friends houses. As I've grown, I've continued to sit on the floor in situations where chairs are the norm. "You don't have to sit on the floor! Here I'll grab you a chair." To some, sitting on the floor is the equivalent of being banished to a lower status, where the bugs and animals lurk, no place for a civilized adult to sit. To me, it's a chance to be free. To stretch my legs unconfined and feel like a child.
Here are my top reasons for practicing floor sitting:
It's where we started.
As babies we started out by lying on the floor, grounded in our humble states of immobility. When we slowly began to roll around, crawl and then finally walk, the floor was our constant. Always there to catch us. Most of us eventually graduated to a chair once we reached four or five, but its the floor that taught us gravity and our connection to the earth. Why dismiss where we came from?
It improves our posture and flexibility.
Chairs are a recent invention. Our bodies were not meant to contort to it's confines. Sitting on the floor naturally keeps our core more engaged, straightens our back, expands our spine and pushes our shoulders back, improving our posture and lessening our chances of suffering from chronic back pain. Frequently practicing floor sitting can also keep our knees and hip joints engaged and healthy. Waking them up from their inactive and weak states of excessive chair sitting.
It aids in digestion.
When you sit on the floor to eat in a cross-legged or kneeling position on your heels, you bend forward to eat and then go back upright to swallow your food. The back and forth movement activates your abdominal muscles and prepares you to quickly and effectively digest your food.
It helps to ground us.
In many religious and spiritual beliefs, sitting on the floor connects us with the spiritual. Yogis, Monks and Muslims alike all meditate and pray on the floor. Touching the earth and becoming level with children and animals can help to ground us and keep us humble.
It keeps our mind and body aware.
Sitting in a chair is a passive act, keeping us slumped over, shoulders rounded and feet twisted - dependent on the chair to support our weight. Alternatively, sitting on the floor keeps us engaged and aware. Calming our mind and relaxing our nerves.
How and where we sit changes the function of our bodies. While chattra cushions were created to inspire a deep meditation practice, they can also be used to increase overall time on the floor. Next time you eat, read or watch tv consider grabbing a cushion to create your own seated posture - the benefits are endless.
Yogini Shireen is chattra's marketing master. She is a San Francisco Bay Area native and mama to a beautiful baby girl, Rumi (pictured above). She has been practicing yoga for over a decade and became a certified Ashtanga Yoga teacher in Bali in 2015. She spearheaded a yoga & wellness retreat at Calamigos Ranch in Malibu, including organizing an Ayurveda workshop in 2017. She is passionate about living in harmony with nature and in oneness with each other.
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  • Thank you for this inspiration🦋

  • I adore this article and the cultural references. I am a floor advocate, 100%. The only reason I don’t sit on the floor in any given situation is for concern of “impropriety”; unfortunate that something so organic and innate is socially unfamiliar. ♥

    Michelle CA
  • A forever fan of seating on the floor with the little ones. There is not better way to interact with them 💕


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