These are common Blue Zones references: FLOOR SITTING, IKIGAI, MOAI, HARA HACHI BU, and SHINRIN-YOKU. Here is a quick overview of each term. As usual and in the spirit of good advice...talk to your medical professional! These are not recommendations; they are explanations. The BZ page on BCalmBzen is a link to Blue Zones information.
That said, here are the "definitions."
Sitting on the floor has been a common practice in many cultures for thousands of years, and it comes with several potential benefits.
1. Encourages natural stability. Without the support of a chair, floor sitting forces you to engage your core for stabilization.
2. Less hip tension. Prolonged chair sitting can make your hips tight and stiff. But when you sit on the floor, you can easily stretch your hip flexors.
3. Increased flexibility. Seated positions allow you to stretch your lower body muscles.
4. Increased mobility. As you actively stretch certain muscles, your mobility will improve.
5. More muscle activity. Some postures, like kneeling and squatting, are "active rest" positions. They require more muscle activity than sitting in a chair.
However, it's important to note that sitting on the floor could cause pain and discomfort if done incorrectly, especially if you already have joint issues. It's advised to switch positions often when sitting for a long time to avoid health problems such as arthritis. Despite this, health professionals are increasingly advising that sitting on the floor helps to maintain the natural curvature of the spine and so helps people sit more upright and improve posture.
Ikigai (生き甲斐, pronounced ee-key-guy) is a Japanese concept that combines the terms iki, meaning “alive” or “life,” and gai, meaning “benefit” or “worth.” When combined, these terms mean that which gives your life worth, meaning, or purpose. Ikigai is similar to the French term “raison d’etre” or “reason for being.”
The concept of ikigai is said to have evolved from the basic health and wellness principles of traditional Japanese medicine. This medical tradition holds that physical wellbeing is affected by one’s mental–emotional health and sense of purpose in life.
Japanese psychologist Michiko Kumano has said that ikigai is a state of wellbeing that arises from devotion to activities one enjoys, which also brings a sense of fulfillment¹. Michiko further distinguishes ikigai from transitory pleasure (hedonia, in the ancient Greek sense) and aligns it with eudaimonia – the ancient Greek sense of a life well lived, leading to the highest and most lasting form of happiness.
Ken Mogi, a neuroscientist and author of Awakening Your Ikigai (2018), says that ikigai is an ancient and familiar concept for the Japanese, which can be translated simply as “a reason to get up in the morning” or, more poetically, “waking up to joy.”
Ikigai also appears related to the concept of flow, as described in the work of Hungarian–American psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. For Csikszentmihalyi, flow occurs when you are in your “zone,” as they say of high-performing athletes. Flow is a string of “best moments” or moments when we are at our best.
The term "Moai" has different meanings in different cultures.
1. Polynesian Origin. Moai are monolithic human figures carved by the Rapa Nui people on Rapa Nui (Easter Island) in eastern Polynesia between the years 1250 and 1500. These statues are often referred to as "Easter Island heads" in some popular literature. They are chiefly the living faces (aringa ora) of deified ancestors (aringa ora ata tepuna).
2. Japanese Origin. In Japanese culture, particularly in Okinawa, Moai refers to a group of lifelong friends. It's a social support group that provides varying support from social, financial, health, or spiritual interests. The concept of Moai is being popularized in the United States by Dan Buettner. The tradition of Moai in Okinawa is considered one of the reasons why people there live extraordinarily better and longer lives than almost anyone else in the world.
HARA HACHI BU
"Hara Hachi Bu" is a Japanese term that originated in the city of Okinawa, which means "Eat until you're 80% full". It's a Confucian teaching that instructs people to eat until they are 80 percent full. The phrase translates to, "Eat until you are eight parts (out of ten) full", or "belly 80 percent full".
This practice is believed to contribute to the long lifespan and low rates of illness from heart disease, cancer, and stroke among the people of Okinawa. It's a method to control overeating and maintain a healthy lifestyle¹. The concept is to stop eating when you feel only slightly full.
The practice works by looking at your plate, deciding how much might make you feel full, and then estimating what 80% of that amount would look like. The aim is to feel satisfied and not hungry anymore, rather than full¹. It's also suggested to slow down while eating, and give your body time to register how much you've eaten.
This approach is not only beneficial for overeaters but also for undereaters who may tend to feel too full or bloated when they eat a large meal. By aiming for 80% full, it should avoid triggering the 'too full' sensation.
Shinrin-Yoku (森林浴), also known as forest bathing, is a Japanese practice of therapeutic relaxation where one spends time in a forest or natural atmosphere, focusing on sensory engagement to connect with nature. The term Shinrin-Yoku translates into "forest bathing" - taking in the forest atmosphere.
The practice involves spending time in nature, amongst the trees and grass, and mindfully engaging within a forest atmosphere or other natural environments. It is usually done by walking through a forest at a slow and gentle pace, without carrying any electronics, and taking the time to soak up the surrounding nature¹. It involves using all five senses, and letting nature enter through those senses.
The term was coined in 1982 by Tomohide Akiyama, who was the director of the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries during that time. After several studies were conducted in Japan during the 1980s, forest bathing was seen to be an effective therapy method.
Shinrin-Yoku has been linked to numerous health benefits and can be performed solo, guided, and/or with others. It's considered similar to other adopted east-to-west health trends, such as yoga and meditation.