Let’s be real, picking the right pillow for meditation is kind of a big deal. I mean, you’ll be sitting on this thing a lot so you want something that’s sure to be comfortable and supportive right? It’s hard to meditate and look inwards if your legs are numb and your back is aching. Beyond the comfort factor, a good meditation pillow allows you to maintain proper spinal alignment which allows for better breathing and counteracts the effects of long-term harmful posture.
It's no secret that the benefits of meditation are vast and powerful. Taking time to practice mindfulness and to relax your mind and body can help reduce stress and anxiety, promote better sleep, and boost overall wellbeing. Starting a practice and sticking to it is already a challenge, so what shouldn't be hard is the cushion you meditate on! Discomfort in the body acts as a distraction from reflection and inner peace, so investing in a comfortable seat will not only make meditation a more pleasurable experience, but it’ll also help you stay focused as well!
Meditation postures include the traditional full-lotus, half-lotus (cross-legged), kneeling, or even Savasana. You may use more than one of these postures for daily meditation, such as half-lotus for the morning then Savasana at the end of an afternoon yoga session. But one thing remains certain, the ability to meditate in any of these postures is determined largely by the flexibility and mobility of your ankles, knees, and hips. For most people some type of support is needed and beneficial in order to maintain proper alignment and comfort during meditation, especially for a prolonged period of time.
No matter which posture you use during a meditation, a solid foundation, proper alignment to support the body and breath, and comfort are all vital. Meditation cushions are so important in achieving a comfortable posture so that you are free to focus on the mind and not be distracted by physical discomfort in the body.
Sitting or kneeling comfortably depends on your spine’s ability to maintain its natural curves. When all the curves of the human spine are in proper integrity and alignment it holds itself up easily and painlessly. In meditation, because of hip tightness or inflexibility our sacrum can often end up in a vertical position, or even tilted backwards, instead of a nice and healthy forward tilt. When this happens, the lumbar or lowest curve in our spine has to straighten or flex forward, causing us to have to utilize a whole lot of core strength to maintain the upright position. When we have to spend so much energy just to sit upright, we get tired out pretty quickly. That’s definitely not ideal for a meditation practice.
When your knees are lower than the hip bones, your sacrum will tilt forward, keeping your spinal curves intact. When your knees are higher than your hip bones, your sacrum will naturally tilt backward, making sitting for long periods uncomfortable. We need to sit high enough on a meditation cushion or bench so that our sacrum, and therefore our pelvis, can tilt forward so that the spinal curves can fall into place. That is why meditation cushions are designed to give us an extra boost of height.
What Is a Zafu Meditation Cushion?
You might have heard or seen the word “zafu” a lot in connection to meditation, and with good reason! A zafu is a traditional round meditation pillow or cushion that’s conventionally stuffed with either kapok or buckwheat hulls (although cotton is also common these days due to manufacturing convenience).
At about five inches high, Zafus are shown to be the best solution to enable comfortable sitting for most people. They tend to be around 14 inches wide and are often constructed of heavy cloth such as cotton or hemp. Zafu pillows made of a natural cork fabric have the added benefits of being super easy to wipe clean, possessing antimicrobial properties, and of course are eco-friendly. Experienced meditation practitioners sit on a zafu because it keeps their spine erect and their knees in a comfortable position. They also provide enough structure and comfort to kneel on and can be used as handy bolsters in a full yoga practice. Heck, they even look nice as couch or throw pillows!
Kapok Versus Buckwheat Hull
As mentioned before, there are really two traditional filling materials when it comes to zafu cushions: Kapok and Buckwheat hulls. Kapok is a downy cotton-like material that comes from the Kapok Trees of Asia and southern regions of the US. It’s a useful product for meditation cushions because it doesn’t compress and squish down like cotton or polyester. It has enough give to conform to the shape of the body without collapsing and becoming unsupportive and useless over time.
On the other hand, Buckwheat hulls are the outer chaff of the buckwheat grain. The hulls are small, dark, and saucer-shaped. When poured into a cushion they create a similar effect to a pile of sand, but with a lot less weight! They have a little more heft to them than their Kapok counterparts and can feel firmer and more supportive. Buckwheat-filled cushions conform quite easily to the shape of the body and create a very grounded feeling. They feel more stable than the kapok cushions and are preferred by many.
Our Zen Cork Meditation Cushion
Committed to sustainability as well as maximum support, our Zen Meditation Cushion is made of high-quality 100% sustainable cork fabric with treated buckwheat fillers. The cork cushion naturally takes the shape of your body making it very comfortable, and its lightweight nature makes it easy to carry around for mindfulness on the go! Due to the cork material, it easily wipes clean with just a damp cloth!
Being eco-friendly is incredibly Important to us, so we wanted to provide a comfortable meditation pillow that you could feel good about using. Cork is the outer bark of the Oak Tree. The Oak tree is never cut down to harvest cork, rather the bark is stripped by hand! No part of the bark is wasted during cork production, and harvested Oak trees regenerate their bark by absorbing five times more Carbon Dioxide than an oak tree that hasn't been harvested. One less worry to cloud the mind while you meditate!