Picking the right zafu cushion for meditation or yoga is a big deal. After all, you’ll be sitting on this thing a lot so you want something that’s comfortable right? It’s hard to meditate if your legs are numb and your knees and back are aching – I can vouch.
When I started meditating I was using chairs, the couch and yoga mats on a regular basis. While a chair was comfortable, I wanted something more official – so I got some meditation cushions.
Beyond comfort, a zafu provides a prop for you to maintain proper spinal alignment and doubles as a bolster for yoga. So the question is, with all the zafu’s out there, which one do I pick? In order to make sure you don’t waste your time and money, we’ve compiled a review of the 5 best zafu cushions on the market. We’ll review them based on comfort, reliability, price and the pros and cons of each.
Our Top Picks:
- Best Overall: Seat of Your Soul Meditation Cushion – Lot’s of Styles
- Runner Up: Peace Yoga Meditation Cushion – Multiple Sizes Available
- Best Premium: Leewadee Meditation Cushion – Hand Made Quality
- Best Organic Buckwheat: Bean Products Zafu Meditation Cushion
- Best Styles: Yoga Accessories Zafu Meditation Cushion
What Is a Zafu Meditation Cushion
A zafu is a comfortable round meditation pillow or cushion that’s traditionally stuffed with either kapok or buckwheat hulls (although cotton is common these days).
They’re usually about 14 inches wide by 5 – 8 inches high and constructed of heavy cloth such as cotton or hemp. Meditation practitioners sit on a zafu when participating in sitting meditation because it keeps their spine to be erect and their knees in a comfortable position.
I like the zafu because it’s comfortable and it can accommodate any position. You can use it for meditating in a standard lotus, you can kneel and have it between your knees, you can use it as a bolster in yoga and heck, they look nice enough to use for a couch pillow!
The zafu makes sitting for longer periods of time much easier than sitting flat, especially for beginning meditators. You won’t have any problems with your legs going numb or any trouble keeping your spine in the correct alignment.
There are two primary fillings for a zafu cushion and the type you choose will be dependent on your desire for firmness among a few other properties. Let’s discuss the pros and cons of each.
Kapok Filled Zafu Cushions
Kapok is a traditional pillow filler that resembles a fluffy cotton. It’s naturally resistant to mold, hypoallergenic and it’s grown in the south pacific. Kapok fiber has some pros and cons, let’s discuss:
- Makes a soft cushion similar to cotton but firmer.
- Light weight material so you don’t have a heavy cushion.
- Naturally mold resistant and hypoallergenic.
- Traditional fiber – it’s stood the test of time.
- Hard to refill if your cushion needs a touch-up. It can result in a cottage cheese texture.
- Not as stable as buckwheat.
- Can flatten over time like many cushions.
Buckwheat Filled Zafu Cushions
Buckwheat, or more specifically, buckwheat hulls, are the shell of the buckwheat grain. They provide a stable base that conforms well to the shape of your body without too much give. They feel like sitting on a mound of soft sand which may or may not be too firm for you. Let’s talk about the pros and cons of buckwheat:
- The cushions can typically be opened and refilled easily. You can also remove some buckwheat hulls if you feel your cushion is too firm.
- It conforms well to your body shape and provides a stable base.
- Buckwheat cushions or pillows maintain their shape and support for long periods of time and aren’t going to flatten out.
- The buckwheat cushion may be too firm for you. However, you can also remove some hulls and adjust to your comfort level.
- Buckwheat is a heavier material than kapok. Its no big deal if you keep the cushion at home but may be problematic for travel.
- The hulls can make a scrunching noise at first.
How to Choose a Zafu Cushion
The zafu comes in standard shapes and sizes. However you’ll want to consider a few things about yourself before settling on the one for you. The primary factors to consider are your height, comfort level, flexibility, favorite meditation position, the reliability and price of your cushion.
Consider Your Height
Your height will play a role in whether or not you choose a Zafu or go with another meditation cushion. The taller you are the more lift you will need. A zafu is about 5 – 8 inches off the floor which should be perfectly fine for individuals of almost any height.
You don’t want to be too high because you’ll be sitting at a forward angle most of the time and your knees should be able to touch the ground/yoga mat/blanket below.
Comfort Of The Zafu
If you’ve ever sat on the floor or a thin yoga mat during meditation, chances are you realized quickly that it’s uncomfortable and blocked you from getting in the zone.
The filling and material of your cushion will dictate the comfort of the cushion. If you like a somewhat softer feel to your pillow, you’ll want a kapok or cotton zafu. If you like a firm base and heavier feel to your cushion, you’ll want a buckwheat zafu.
Are You Flexible?
Sitting in a cross legged position requires a certain level of flexibility. Personally, I’m not that flexible so sitting indian style on the ground is really not an option for me (although I’m working on flexibility so maybe someday…). If you’re in the same boat, then you want the lift of a zafu under you while you’re meditating. The zafu will help you maintain a slight forward position with your knees below your hips (critical for maintaining proper spinal alignment) and keep the pressure off your knees and ankles.
The zafu is also a versatile cushion which can be used if you prefer a kneeling meditation. For kneeling meditation you can simply turn the zafu on it’s side to give it a little more height so you can comfortably kneel on it.
Favorite Meditation Position – Does it Work For a Zafu?
Speaking of the zafu’s versatility, consider what position you prefer for your meditations. If you like sitting and kneeling, then the zafu is a great option for you. However, many meditation cushions and even benches can also accommodate sitting and kneeling as well. I’m not saying a zafu is the only option but it’s affordable, traditional and a great place to get started.
Picking a Zafu That’s Reliable
I’ve bought and tested many brands and styles of meditation cushions. And while they’re not very expensive, I do want something that’s going to stand the test of time. Frankly, I don’t want to have to get back online, research and then order another cushion if I don’t have to. That’s valuable time I could be spending meditating 😉 The other reliability factors I consider is that the cushion is pr