There are countless ergonomic chairs on the market designed to make sitting as healthy as possible. They support your back, encourage proper posture, and are incredibly comfortable.
However, even if you don’t have an ergonomic chair—or a chair at all for that matter—you can still sit healthily and comfortably.
Here are a few of our favorite healthiest ways to sit without a chair. Not all of them may work for you, but we encourage you to experiment with each method and find which one works best for you.
Table of Contents
Arguably the most popular way to sit on the floor, sitting cross-legged is the most popular position for meditators as they settle into long periods of meditation. It’s also often used by children sitting on the floors in schools, too.
There are a variety of ways to sit cross-legged on the floor and your flexibility and personal preferences will dictate which variation works best for you.
- Classic: The classic cross-legged position is popular for a reason. It’s easy to get into and requires little flexibility. You can also sit in the classic cross-legged position for long periods, making it perfect for when you’re busy.
- Half Lotus: If you want to work on your flexibility while still being comfortable, the half lotus position might be best. Sit on the floor with your legs crossed comfortably, then move one foot up so it’s resting on the opposite thigh. Make sure to change which leg is on top regularly to ensure you’re building flexibility in both legs.
- Full Lotus: This position is quite difficult, but it has fantastic benefits. Similar to the half lotus pose, you will need to get a leg up over the opposite thigh. However, in full lotus, both legs should be resting on top of the thighs. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t get into a full lotus position or if you have trouble staying in it—practice makes perfect!
Kneeling is easy, convenient, and even has a few health benefits. Get down on your knees then sit back onto your feet. You can choose to have your toes relaxed or pressed into the floor for an extra boost.
If you’re suffering from back pain, kneeling is a great option. It puts less pressure on your spine and encourages you to sit up straight. If you’re kneeling while working, make sure your desk or table is at the appropriate height so you can fully enjoy the benefits of this chair-free seating position.
You may want to add a little support under your knees in the form of a cushion or yoga mat to make things more comfortable.
3. Squat Sit
This position is great for your digestion and gives your hips and legs a good stretch. Start standing with your feet hip-length apart then slowly bring your body down into a squat position.
You should be able to squat down completely and use your balance to stay in a comfortable seated position. Keeping your feet grounded and slightly spread is essential to maintaining this position.
A squat sit helps ankle mobility by keeping the ankles moving, improves back pain by rotating the pelvis backward and elongating the spine, and strengthens the hips and glutes by allowing them to support and balance the body. It also improves posture by strengthening and stretching the body in the previously mentioned manners.
The squat sit is also great for your digestion, especially if you are experiencing gas or gas pains. Your organs need enough space to function and digest properly, and the squat sit provides them with that.
4. Side Sit
The key to a good side sit is ensuring your hips are both placed firmly on the ground. If you end up lifting one hip, you may end up experiencing discomfort on one side of the body and end up having to fidget and move around a lot to stay comfortable.
Start sitting on the floor with your legs out in front of you and your sit bones grounded. Gently bring your legs to one side of the body with one leg sitting slightly on the other.
Be sure not to cross your legs too firmly as this might interrupt your circulation or become uncomfortable quickly. The key to a good chair-free seating position is that you’re able to stay seated in it, so aim for long-term support.
You should also be aware of your posture in this position as it’s easy to end up slouching—be sure to sit up straight!
5. Using a Seat Cushion
This isn’t necessarily a position, but we think it’s important to go over the benefits of using a seat cushion when sitting on the floor. Some people don’t like sitting on the floor because it can be too intense on their joints, sit bones, or muscles, but a seat cushion takes all that pressure away.
- Better Posture: Many seat cushions are ergonomic and encourage your spine and hips to straighten up, giving you a perfectly effortless posture. When you’re uncomfortable, you’re more likely to not prioritize your posture, so a support cushion ticks all the boxes.
- Less Pressure: Picture yourself getting up from the sidewalk to a hardwood floor after an hour of sitting—you’re probably quite sore. A seat cushion puts less pressure on your hips, tailbone, and spine so you don’t feel as sore and fatigued.
- Better Digestion: Your intestines and bowels need space and comfort to do their job properly, otherwise you might end up dealing with constipation or gas pains. A seat cushion, unlike a traditional chair, lets you sit down without compressing your bowels.
- Better Circulation: If you sit the wrong way, you might end up slowing down your circulation in certain parts of your body. A seat cushion provides comfort while still letting blood flow freely in your legs.
- You’ll Feel More Comfortable and Energetic: Without the right ergonomic support, it’s easy to feel drained and discontent after a long day’s work. Sitting properly and comfortably will help you preserve your energy and end your day feeling happy and healthy, not sore and dull.
6. Exercise Ball
If you don’t love the idea of sitting on the floor, an exercise or yoga ball might be a better fit for your needs. Sitting on one of these balls requires a fair amount of balance, which helps strengthen your abdominals and trunk muscles.
Strong abdominals mean better posture, digestion, and sports performance.
You’ll also burn more calories sitting on an exercise ball instead of on a traditional chair. The squishiness of the ball means your hips and legs won’t have to sustain the same levels of pressure and discomfort.
Don’t Stay Stagnant for Too Long
Whether you’re sitting on the floor, a seat cushion, an exercise ball, or a boring old chair, it’s important to never stay stagnant for too long. While it’s important to be able to sit for long periods, it isn’t always the best for you.
Try to switch up your position or take a minute or two every so often to move around and stretch your legs. If you’re concerned about taking time away from valuable office hours, remember that feeling comfortable will help you stay productive and happy.
We recommend setting a timer every 30 minutes to an hour as a reminder to get up and move around. This will also help you stay focused during the time you aren’t moving around since you’ll know you’re only working in 30-60 minute bursts.
Listen to Your Body
If one of these positions doesn’t work well for you, don’t worry. Not every seating position is for everybody—that’s why there are so many to choose from!
Always make sure your hips are comfortable, there isn’t too much pressure on your sit bones, and that your spine is elongated. If you feel like you have to try too hard to maintain proper posture in a position, it’s probably not the right one for you.
Exercising regularly will make sitting on the floor easier, too, since staying active maintains bone mass and improves flexibility.
So, the next time you find yourself without a chair or feel inspired to explore different methods of sitting down, give one of these methods a try. If you’re particularly concerned about your hips, using a seat cushion or an exercise ball might be the best option for you.
Do you often opt for sitting on the floor instead of using a chair? What’s your favorite seated position to go for? We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.
My name is Vance, and I am the owner of To Ergonomics. Our mission is to improve your workflow by helping you create a supportive and welcoming environment. We hope that you’ll find what you’re looking for while you’re here.