Meditation is relaxing and can often connect us with a deeper sense of ourselves. However, it requires intense focus, concentration, and mindfulness.
These things are difficult to achieve when you’re uncomfortable. Thankfully, meditation can be made more comfortable when you have a meditation cushion to support you on your journey.
For many people, they can even help further your meditation in ways only attainable when your sitting position is comfortable and relaxing. If you’re ready to take your yoga and meditation sessions to the next level, take a look at what meditation cushions are and how to choose the best one for you.
What Is a Meditation Cushion?
A meditation cushion, also known as a zafu or putuan, is a small cushion used to support a meditator’s posture during meditation.
They can be a variety of different shapes, colors and made of a wide array of materials and fillings. They originated from China; however, the Zen practice of Buddism comes from Japan.
Used as far back as the 6th century, zafus are necessary for comfort and proper spinal alignment during meditation.
The Purpose of Zafu Meditation Cushion
A yoga meditation cushion’s primary purpose is to support and align your spine for the optimal posture while meditating.
When looking at the human spine from the side, it has a gentle curve to it. All the way from our cervical vertebrae to our tailbone, our spine has to remain in proper alignment to avoid pain and undue stress.
Sitting on a hard floor, chair, or even a mat during Zen meditation practices can put more stress on the delicate spinal area than it’s used to. Over time, this stress and pressure on the spine can create back problems, chronic pain, and discomfort.
Sitting in lotus or half-lotus poses can be taxing on the spine because of this. Zafus offer a gentle lift underneath a meditator’s bottom to realign the spine to its natural curvature.
Why You Need a Meditation Cushion
As mentioned, the cushion protects your spine from improper alignment. Over time, sitting on the floor or somewhere else that doesn’t offer adequate lumbar support can leave you stiff and in pain.
Even though meditation cushions help protect your spine, they can also help increase focus. When you’re comfortable, you can remain seated for longer and engage in longer meditation sessions.
Longer sessions can help you build upon your current practice and even help you increase your mindfulness. Once you’re comfortable, you’re more likely to put all your thoughts and focus into your meditation and mindfulness.
It’s not only beneficial for your spine’s alignment but also your tailbone. You might notice that occasionally while meditating, you feel pressure and pain coming from the base of your lower back or your tailbone. This can happen when there isn’t enough support for your bones on the hard surface.
How To Sit On a Meditation Cushion
A zafu meditation cushion is best used by resting your tail bone on the side so that your legs are at an incline. Your hips should be raised higher than your feet, and you should feel a natural curve in the lower back.
Different mediation cushions are used in different ways, so keep this in mind when choosing one. We’ll look at those types of meditation cushions below.
Try out different positions until you feel what is right for you. For your meditation to reach its highest potential, you have to focus and find where your mind is the calmest.
Types of Meditation Cushions
There are various types of meditation cushions, and you may be wondering which meditation cushion is right for you.
First, there are the simple zafu meditation cushions. These are small round cushions about 14 inches wide and approximately 5-8 inches tall. They can be used as part of a meditation cushion set or on their own on top of a yoga mat.
For maximum comfort and relief on your joints, there are square cushions you can sit on first and then raise your spine with another smaller cushion called zabutons. Some cushions are crescent-shaped, triangular, or can even look like small seatbacks.
There are also kapok-filled or buckwheat meditation cushions. Buckwheat is the outer shell of buckwheat grain, while kapok is a plant fiber similar to cotton. Both provide support and form well to the shape of your body.
FAQs About Zafu Meditation Cushions
Is there a best meditation cushion?
This would depend on your personal needs. While most meditation cushions are similar to the standard Zafu, some different shapes and materials allow for different support and angularity levels. For example, if you have knee pain, you might consider using a zabuton and a zafu, while those who need stress relief may choose a zafu with acupressure points.
Can I make a DIY meditation cushion?
Of course! This is a great option for people who want to customize their own meditation cushion or don’t want to spend money on a premade one. Though, you’ll have to research to find out what filling, fabric, and extra features will work for you.
Choose Your Zafu Cushion Type
Here are 3 different shapes and type of zafu. Their main difference is their shape and design, espexially the top sitting area. Depending on your “bottom” shape, one of these can be more comfortable than the other. Do not forget that, the main purpose of any zafu is to keep your body tilted and your spine vertical to the ground, while also keeping your pelvis higher than your feet. That is the proper posture, where you don’t slide from your sitting and -top of all- you breath freely. It is a kind of science.
Meditation Cushion Round Lotus
The yoga cushion is 15 cm high with a symmetrical design on both top and bottom sides. The buckwheat hull filling can be easily adjusted, so you can find your optimal seat height for meditation. The organic cotton cover can be easily removed and machine-washed.
Waterglider Yoga Zafu Meditation Pillow
This one is a different design where the top is narrower from the bottom. That small change changes the length of the surface that touches the pillow, under your pelvis.
Meditation Buckwheat Bolster
This one is great for beginners and advanced practitioners alike. The half-moon design allows your feet to come closer to the pillow and thus achieve a more vertical posture.
Improve Your Meditation Sessions
Your meditation sessions start with you. When you can get comfortable, and in a good position, meditation comes easier. Mindfulness and clarity appear, and your comfort allows for enlightenment that is otherwise difficult to achieve.
Choose a meditation cushion that works best for your personal needs. Everyone is different, so analyze what you’re looking for to improve your meditation sessions and apply that to your cushion.
For more mindful content and travel blogs, please take a look at some of our other articles! We love sharing our travels and tips with you!