Proper posture for meditation requires three things: stability, comfort, and a straight spine.
Have you ever felt the pain in your ankles or numbness in your legs from meditating on the wrong surface? I know I have. When I started meditating I'd sit every way to get comfortable. Problem was I never actually felt comfortable.
If you're new to meditation, you should know that having a meditation cushion and a place to meditate comfortably can make all the difference.
Lets break down the best meditation cushions for every body type. And if you want to try different styles, you can come back to this post and check out the best ones in each category.
Seat of Your Soul Crescent
Organic buckwheat or cotton fill
Buckwheat Zafu and Zabuton Set
Matching set with unique colors
Joy is Within You Soft Top Meditation Bench
Lifetime warranty on the woodwork
What is a mediation cushion?
Simply put, a meditation cushion is a specially shaped pillow that's designed to support proper posture during meditation. Can you meditate without one? Yes. You can meditate on the subway, in the park or anywhere you're comfortable.
But having a dedicated space and cushion is both more comfortable and serves as a mental reminder to meditate. You're less likely to quit and it makes it easier to get into a meditative headspace.
Why do you need a meditation cushion?
We come in all shapes and sizes. One of the things that's not talked about is finding the perfect meditation seat. Sitting in the right posture allows you to relax more and breath deeply - which is a big part of meditating.
It can be THE difference maker in whether or not you want continue your meditation practice.
Since I'm not very flexible the meditation pillow makes a big difference. Sitting straight, with my spine erect allows me to remain more present in my intention. Which allows you to get more out of your meditation since you're not struggling to ignore general pain and discomfort.
Here's what the right meditation cushion can do for you:
- Conform to and help correct your posture.
- Provide excellent support making meditation a breeze.
- They're comfortable - helping you focus and save time.
- Prevent pain in places that would have a lot of pressure on them (ankles, knees, etc.).
- Help larger people and people with longer legs to comfortably meditate.
- Help you remain more alert during your meditation.
How to choose a meditation cushion:
There's several shapes, sizes and fillings for different meditation cushions so choosing one can be a challenge. There are some factors to consider when picking the right one for you:
- Height - are you over six fee tall?
- Comfort - do you prefer soft or firm?
- Flexibility - are you flexible or just starting out?
- Reliability - is the cushion made from quality materials?
- Price - the most expensive doesn't always mean the best.
The taller you are the more lift you'll need from your meditation pillow.
If you're over six feet tall you'll find that either a zafu (round) style cushion or a rectangular cushion with a larger meditation cushion under it will provide you with the most support and comfort.
Having the larger cushion under the zafu or rectangular cushion allows a higher lift and helps tremendously with stability and comfort.
The comfort of your cushion will depend on all of these factors and the stuffing they're filled with. Meditation pillows are usually stuffed with one of two ingredients: buckwheat or kapok.
Some use cotton filler which is similar to kapok and something you're probably already familiar with. Below we'll cover the kapok and buckwheat since these are less common.
Buckwheat: buckwheat hulls are the outer shell of the buckwheat grain. These hulls conform well to the shape of the body and offer a stable support. Its a similar experience to sitting on mound of sand at the beach.
Pros of Buckwheat
- Most cushions can be opened allowing you to remove / add more buckwheat hulls to adjust for your comfort level.
- Conform well to the shape of your body
- They maintain their shape and don't flatten out.
Cons of Buckwheat
- A bit hard for some people. They are about as firm as a small mountain of sand.
- Weight a more than some of the lighter cushions.
- The hulls make a little scrunching noise when moving around.
Kapok: this is the more traditional filler. Kapok is a more fluffy and cotton like material. It's mold resistant, hypoallergenic, and its a natural fiber that's grown in the south pacific from the seed pods of kapok trees.
Pros of Kapok
- Fluffy material that makes for a softer cushion.
- Lighter weight material than buckwheat hulls.
- Naturally hypoallergenic and mold resistant.
- Traditional filler that's been used for thousands of years.
Cons of Kapok
- Not easy to refill and refilling can result in a cottage cheese like feel to the cushion.
- Doesn't provide the stable feel of buckwheat.
- Can flatten after a lot of use.
How flexible you are will play a role in choosing the right cushion.
If you can't comfortably sit in a crossed legged position for an extended period of time then you'll want an elevated cushion. This will help relieve pressure from your knees and ankles. It can also help you maintain a straighter spine alignment and open airways for deep breathing.
I've owned cushions that weren't very comfortable, weren't versatile, and didn't last long. A cushion that's made from durable materials, properly stuffed, and versatile is one that you'll be able to use for a very long time.
Expensive doesn't necessarily mean highest quality. There are many cushions available that are over $150.00. But chances are you won't notice a difference or like them any more than the cushions that are half that price.
The cushions reviewed below are the absolute best of all worlds. They're affordable, high quality, and comfortable.
How to Sit On a Meditation Cushion
If you've never sat on a meditation cushion than you may want some backup. Since the purpose of the cushion is to both provide comfort as well as keep the spine straight there's a definite form to comfortably sitting. This meditation basics video does a good job demonstrating how to sit properly.
Review of the Best Meditation Cushions
Zafu meditation cushion
Zafu meditation cushions are the most popular and well known type. They're comfortable right out of the box which is why many beginning meditators start here. Zafu pillows are filled with buckwheat hulls or kapok giving them a firm nature that conforms well to your body.
Kapok filled cushions will feel much firmer when taken out of the box and may require a small break in period. But once you break it in, you'll become very attached to your kapok cushion.
Zafu cushions can also be turned on their side. This gives you more height and works well if you like to meditate in a kneeling position and if you're taller and need the added lift. Zafus and cushions in general may take a few days to get used to if you've never sat on a cushion before. But once you've tried it a few times you'll find its the best way to meditate.
Zafu Meditation Cushion - Cotton or Hemp - Organic Buckwheat Filled
Zafu Meditation Cushion - Cotton or Hemp - Organic Buckwheat Fill
The organic buckwheat hulls can be adjusted in level & quantity making this customizable to your comfort. Sitting comfortably on this cushion for long periods won't be a problem for any level of meditator.
The canvas material is durable enough to last for years. Yet the zipper on the side is plastic making it the weak point on this zafu. Overall, this is a durable zafu that should hold up for several years but the zipper will probably be first to go.
Its priced affordably for the level of quality, style and durability. It's right in the middle of the road for a quality meditation cushion.
- Durable canvas material.
- Carrying handle for easy travel.
- Organic buckwheat hulls.
- Comes in many colors and two sizes.
- Zipper allowing for easy refilling.
- Plastic zipper on the side could malfunction.
- Not the prettiest looking zafu.
- Some buckwheat hulls may have to be removed for better comfort.
Summary: Overall this is a great option if you want a solid and affordable meditation cushion. The wide variety of colors make this easy to match any decor. The durable material will last for years and its comfortable to meditate on for long periods of time.
The main drawback to this cushion is the zipper on the side being made of plastic. But with the affordable price, you could easily get another one if it wears out in a few years.
Factoring in the comfort, reliability and price this is a great choice for starting meditators.
This next zafu is cotton filled. The primary differences between the two are the weight and experience of sitting on it. The buckwheat will conform to your body right away. Similar to sitting on a mound of beach sand. The cotton may feel a little more dense out of the box but once broken in you may find that you love the way it feels even more.
Choosing between cotton, kapok, and buckwheat is a matter of personal preference since you'll end up loving all of them.
Zafu Meditation Cushion - Cotton Filled
Zafu Meditation Cushion - Cotton Fill
Stuffed with ample cotton, its a bit firm out of the box but breaks in quickly. Once broken in, you'll find this to be very comfortable. The durable cotton cover is thick yet feels soft and comfortable against your legs.
The heavy cotton twill covering is surprisingly durable while maintaining softness. The zipper holds up nicely and since it can be refilled you may never have to buy another zafu again.
Its priced very affordably for the level of quality. Its right at the low / mid price range or meditation cushions and also offers fancier printed versions.
- Durable cotton twill covering.
- Convenient carrying handle.
- Cotton filled and lightweight.
- Comes in many colors and two sizes.
- Side zipper allows for easy refilling or removing cotton.
- Cotton can hard to replenish without giving your cushion a cottage cheese like feel.
- May feel overly firm until broken in.
- The fabric holds onto lint easily.
Summary: This cushion is a great choice. With the many unique designs and colors, you can get one that really fits your personality. It's stuffed with cotton making it lighter than buckwheat versions and easier to travel with.
The convenient handle on the side allows you to pick it up and put it away easily. The durable heavy cotton twill is comfortable and it should last for years. To top it off, its refillable so you can add or take away as much cotton filling as you'd like for your comfort level. After a few sits you and your new cotton zafu will become inseparable.
Zabuton meditation cushion
The zabuton is like a mini futon for meditation. It's a wide, rectangular cushion that's typically filled with cotton and only a few inches thick. The zabuton is placed under the zafu or other meditation cushion. It provides comfort and support for the ankles and knees as well as added stability making meditation easier for you.
If you plan on meditating for periods of 20-30 minutes you'll appreciate having this cushion. While sitting for 5-10 minutes won't hurt your ankles or knees very much, sitting for longer will result in sore ankles, knees, and legs falling asleep without proper support and posture.
The zafu and zabaton combination aren't just meditation cushions. sitting on them while watching TV, reading, or relaxing with your family can help open the hips and correct posture in no time. In fact individuals with bad backs, back aches, and poor posture should be using these daily.
Zabuton Meditation Cushion - Cotton Filled
Zabuton Meditation Cushion - Cotton Fill
The pure cotton filling makes this both lightweight and comfortable. It's three inches thick and completely protects your knees and ankles from hard surfaces below. It's also three feet wide making it more than wide enough for anyone to sit comfortably.
The cover is made of heavy cotton twill which can last for a very long time. The cover is also removable and washable which means you can keep this zabuton looking fresh and new. The filling inside is safely secured in a natural cotton casing but it can't be refilled.
This zabuton is right in the average range for zabutons. There are some that are much more expensive but not many that are less money. Especially for this level of comfort and durability.
- Larger surface area makes it ideal for taller people.
- Lightweight cotton filling.
- Completely protects your knees and ankles from the hard floor below.
- Offers great stability when a zafu or other meditation cushion is placed on top of it.
- The cotton can feel lumpy and can lump up if not taken care of properly.
- Thicker than the traditional zabuton.
- Only offered in 4 colors.
Summary: This zabuton is a great choice for both seasoned and new meditators. With its wide surface area you can easily fit your zafu, crescent, rectangular pillow, or bench on top with plenty of room for your legs.
The thickness of this zabuton also makes it a comfortable option for meditating without any other cushions. The affordable price, comfort, ability to wash, and durability make this an easy choice and the number one go to for an inexpensive yet comfortable cushion.
Buckwheat Zafu and Zabuton Meditation Cushion Set
Buckwheat Zafu and Zabuton Meditation Cushion Set.
The zafu is filled with organic buckwheat which conforms to your posture almost immediately. You can add/remove buckwheat hulls to adjust the firmness to your custom needs.
The zabuton is filled with kapok fiber which is similar to cotton only firmer. It won't take long to break in and provides a very stable base for your zafu. The thickness of the zabuton thoroughly protects your knees and ankles form the floor below. This is a very comfortable set up for any level meditator.
The cover of the zabuton can be removed and machine washed. Both the zafu and zabuton have double stitching for increased durability. The zafu has a zipper sown in so you can add or remove buckwheat hulls as needed. The kapok filling of the zabuton is known for being both stable and durable. Overall this set is very reliable and it will last for many years of daily sitting.
This set is comparable to purchasing the individual zafu and zabuton (but they might not match ;). This is a great price for a quality set that will last you many years.
- Matching set with unique colors.
- Lightweight and durable kapok filling.
- Zippered zafu cushion allows you to adjust buckwheat filling.
- Comes in several unique colors.
- Removable and washable cover on the zabuton.
- Good price for the set.
- This set is only recommended for people 5'10" and under.
- Kapok can feel very firm at first and take time to break it in.
- You may have to remove some buckwheat hulls because it tends to be stuffed with more than you need.
Summary: This set is perfect if your want quality without spending too much money. The zabuton is very stable and thick enough to be used on its own.
With this set you won't feel like you're sitting on an uneven surface. You'll be able to focus, clear your mind and relax. Plus this is a very high quality set that will hold true for years to come.
V-shaped / wedge / crescent meditation cushion
The crescent or V shaped meditation pillows are similar to the zafu but offer a wider support base for the legs and hips. A big benefit of the crescent shaped pillow is that it allows you to tuck your legs in closer to your body. The dip in the center of the pillow allows you to bring your ankles in close when sitting in a cross legged position.
I like this type of cushion because my hips externally rotate. The crescent shape offers support for my leg and the downward slant encourages my pelvis to tilt forward. This combination helps me comfortably maintain a straight posture through the entire sitting period.
If you can comfortably sit on a zafu, then you'll have no problem sitting on a crescent and you may even like it more. Pro tip - get a zabuton or some thick blankets to place under the crescent. This will protect your knees which will be slanted forward toward the floor.
Crescent Meditation Cushion - Buckwheat or Cotton Filled
Crescent Meditation Cushion - Buckwheat or Cotton Filled
You can choose either organic buckwheat or organic cotton filling. The cover is made from 100% organic cotton. This cushion also comes in several custom sizes making it one of the most customizable and comfortable options.
This meditation cushion comes with a LIFETIME warranty so you'll never have to purchase another cushion again. The cover is 100% organic cotton which is also removable and machine washable.
This cushion is right on the mid/low end of pricing. Considering that it comes with a lifetime warranty it's very reasonably priced. I'd pay twice as much if it meant I never had to buy another cushion again.
- Durable canvas like cover made from organic cotton.
- Carrying handle for convenience.
- Organic buckwheat or organic cotton filling.
- Comes in several colors and sizes.
- Zipper for refilling or removing stuffing.
- Some sizes and colors sell out often.
- Buckwheat hulls break down and eventually have to be replenished.
- Cotton filling in this cushion can feel overly firm at first.
Summary: This crescent is perfect if you like to sit with your legs closer to your body. The crescent shape allows you to tuck your heels in making it easier to sit with legs crossed.
The organic cotton covering is durable like canvas and washable. This cushion will last you for a very long time, its affordable and it comes with a lifetime warranty.
Rectangular meditation cushion
The rectangular cushions are similar to the zafu in height. The primary difference is the shape. The rectangular shape offers a wider base for larger individuals. Whether you choose a zafu or rectangular pillow is really a matter of preference. The wider width of the rectangular pillow will support your upper thighs more.
Some people like their legs to extend off the edge of the cushion. If this is you then you'll fare better with a zafu. The rectangular shape also offers the versatility of the zafu. You can turn this pillow on its side and place it between your legs for a comfortable kneeling meditation.
The straight edges of this pillow make it easier to position yourself. Some experienced meditators prefer this shape over the zafu.
Rectangular Cushion for Meditation or Yoga - Cotton Filled
Rectangular Cushion for Meditation or Yoga - Cotton Filled
This rectangular cushion is 24" long and 12" wide providing a large base to sit on. It's 6" off the ground providing plenty of lift for most people and especially helpful if you're taller than 6 feet. The cotton filling is firm but not too firm and won't quickly flatten out like lesser quality cushions.
This cushion is filled with 100% cotton making it light weight and durable. The cover can be removed and washed and there are handles at both ends for convenience. The downside of the cotton is that it's not easy to refill since the texture can become lumpy if not done properly.
This cushion is middle of the road priced but don't let that fool you. The quality is on par with cushions that cost twice as much.
- Large and wide base to sit on.
- Carrying handles on both ends making it easy to pick up.
- Cotton filling making this cushion firm but not overly firm.
- Comes in several colors and sizes.
- Zipper for refilling or removing stuffing.
- Flat edges make it difficult to tuck your legs in close.
- Cotton filling can flatten over time or get a lumpy consistency if refilled incorrectly.
Summary: the width of this cushion makes it easy for individuals of any size to meditate on. Its wide enough to provide firm support for your upper thighs while allowing your legs to comfortably drape over the edge. The firmness is slightly less than some cotton filled cushions but firm enough to gently encourage great posture.
This cushion was built as a bolster for yoga. But its ideal for a rectangular meditation cushion for just that reason. It was built to support the body weight and movement of individuals doing yoga so sitting in meditation is a breeze for this cushion.
If you prefer to kneel during meditation or sitting crossed legged is a challenge for you then you may want to consider a bench.
The purpose of the meditation bench is to support an upright position during a kneeling meditation. It keeps your bottom supported and the pressure off of your ankles while allowing you to sit with perfect posture.
The first time I tried a bench I found it to be a little difficult. Since I prefer to sit crossed legged rather than kneeling it took some getting used to.
After using it a few times I found it got easier and it wasn't hard to keep strong posture and a focused meditation. I still prefer the cushions for my daily meditation but I can use a bench just as easily. It's really a matter of personal preference.
If you're already flexible or want to become more flexible then you might like the bench.
You can experiment at your house to find what you'll like. If you have a small bench or stool, try to meditate with it. Keep in mind that the base of the meditation bench is designed to allow room for your legs. If your stool isn't narrow at the bottom or doesn't have a gap for your legs, it won't be the same experience.
Joy is Within You Meditation Bench - 3 Sizes
Joy Is Within You Meditation Bench - 3 Sizes
This bench comes in three sizes for people of all heights and body types. The seating area is 8 x 17.5 inches with a 1.5 inch dense foam pad on top. This bench is wide enough for anyone to sit on and the included pad makes it supremely comfortable. The bench can be rotated 180 degrees for different angles and the different size options make this the comfortable choice for individuals of any height and flexibility. You'll be able to meditate longer and be comfortable with this bench.
This bench carries a lifetime warranty on the woodwork making it a very reliable choice. The padding on top is made from 1.5" thick multi density foam which will last for years. The fabric is high quality woven material that won't tear easily. This bench handmade and very high quality.
This bench is priced to be affordable but not cheap. The company makes these by hand and when you call them, you get a real person on the phone. They even made a custom sized bench for one person I know about. The affordable price combined with the craftsmanship and lifetime warranty make this a great price for a bench that can last a lifetime.
- Made from lightweight woods.
- Comes in several great colors and designs.
- Lifetime warranty on the woodwork.
- High quality materials.
- Handmade and great customer service.
- Made in several different sizes and heights.
- Bench padding may not be thick enough for some people.
- Only carries a 30 day full money back return policy.
Summary: this bench is the best choice for both seasoned meditators and beginners. Its affordable (benches can get very expensive), handmade, light, and comes with a lifetime warranty on the woodwork. And If you call the company, you'll get a real person on the phone.
Its a big benefit that these benches come in several sizes. If a bench is not high enough for you, it can be an uncomfortable experience. This bench can also be rotated 180 degrees to add another 1/2 inch to the height. When factoring in the comfort, durability, reliability, price, and the fact that its hand made you can't go wrong with this "Joy is Within You" bench.
Well there you have it. There are many other benches and cushions that I didn't review here. Mostly because this review is already long and the items reviewed here represent some of the best choices for meditators of all shapes, sizes and experience levels.
No matter what bench, pillow or cushion you choose, meditating daily is a practice that can change your life in so many ways. It's proven to help depression, anxiety, performance at work, stress, sickness, and so many other things. Get yourself a meditation cushion and start practicing today. You'll be satisfied that you did.