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 properly stuffed, made from durable materials and stitched properly.
How Much Should You Spend on a Zafu?
Price is an obvious consideration for most of us. I know I’m not about to blow a wad of money on a single cushion any time soon and you probably aren’t either. That being said, I am willing to pay for quality in everything I buy.
Quality doesn’t necessarily mean expensive but it also doesn’t mean I’m searching for the cheapest thing I can find. I find and review products that provide a great balance of affordability, solid build and comfort.
Best Zafu For Meditation and Yoga Review
1. Seat of Your Soul Buckwheat Meditation and Yoga Cushion | Organic Cotton Cover
This zafu is made from a soft yet rugged organic cotton exterior. The outside feels durable while still comfortable against your skin. I found that this zafu will compress to around 4 – 5 inches when sitting on it which provides enough lift for standard sitting meditation. The buckwheat hulls are rather comfortable and you could remove some to save for later if you desired a lower cushion. Overall, this is a comfortable zafu for everyday sitting.
The outside of the meditation pillow is constructed from a durable organic cotton cover which is removable and washable. A feature you’ll be happy to have after having it for a while. The filling is buckwheat hulls which are always hold up and they’re inexpensive to replace should you need to someday. This zafu has a metal zipper which will hold up well through many washes and sits. Between the hulls, removable cover and metal zipper this is a very reliable zafu cushion.
This Seat of Your Soul Zafu pillow is priced on the mid to low end of meditation cushions. Considering the durability and comfort level this is a great product for the money.
- This is ranked as “Amazons Choice” because of the quality construction and positive feedback. I must say that I agree 🙂
- Machine washable removable cover
- Certified organic cotton
- Solid metal zipper
- Convenient carrying handle
- Comes stuffed with enough buckwheat hulls to remove some and save for later
- Affordably priced
- Offered in several sizes and colors
- Heavier than kapok/cotton zafus
- May need to break this in before its fully conformed to your body
Summary: This zafu is a great buy for the money. Its comfortable and durable enough for every day sitting. It’s too large and heavy to make it travel friendly but if you don’t plan on traveling with your cushion, there’s nothing to worry about. Overall this is a great purchase and very worth the money.
2. Bean Products Zafu Meditation Cushion | Organic Buckwheat Fill
The Bean Products zafu comes in both 14″ round and 18″ oval sizes. Personally, I like the bigger one. The cushion comes stuffed tight with buckwheat but once you remove some you’ll find this a very comfortable cushion. The outside comes in either cotton or hemp which both tend to be comfortable fabric against your legs. You’ll have no problems sitting on this zafu for long periods of time.
The construction of this cushion feels solid. It has a single stitched seam which tends to give out faster than standard double stitched but I’ve had no problems yet. This zipper feels sturdy but I read that some people have had problems. Thus far I have not had any problems. The material of the cover will last forever.
This cushion so far has held up well. That being said, some people have expressed problems with the construction and reliability. For the money, I’d have to say the cushion above is a better deal but this is still a great cushion.
- Comes in 14″ round and 18″ oval sizes
- Organic buckwheat filled
- Many colors to choose from
- Eco-friendly cotton or hemp covering
- Made in the USA
- Stuffed with ample buckwheat hulls so you can remove some and save for later
- There’s no inside container for the filling. So if you wanted to wash the cover, you’ll have to put the buckwheat in a separate bag first.
- Zipper may be a weak point.
- Single stitched seams.
Summary: I do like the look and feel of this zafu. That being said, It’s slightly more expensive than the one listed above and some people did have complaints about construction. Personally I haven’t had any problems thus far. It’s a comfortable cushion that feels like it will hold up nicely.
My primary dislike is that there’s no inside pouch for the buckwheat hulls. This makes it hard to clean if you want to wash the cover. The single seam stitch hasn’t made any problems for me and the cushions comfortable so no complaints there.
3. Yoga Accessories Zafu Meditation Cushion | Cotton Filled
The Yoga Accessories cotton zafu is stuffed with a fiber you know well: cotton. This cushions packed with cotton and its a bit firm at first but you’ll break it in quickly. Once you do, you’ll find this is a very comfortable cushion. The outside is a durable cotton that feels nice against your legs.
This pillow has a cotton twill covering that’s naturally durable and soft. The zipper is solid and makes refilling a breeze. Overall the construction is solid and you can’t ask for much more in this price range.
The Yoga Accessories cotton zafu comes in right in the low/center of cost. It’s affordable without being cheaply made. Its a good purchase and quality for the money.
- Many colors and prints to choose from
- Lightweight material
- Convenient handle for carrying
- Side zipper allows for refilling and removing of cotton if you’d like
- Cotton can be hard to refill – may result in cottage cheese feel
- May take some time to break in
Summary: This cushion is a good buy for the money. It’s lightweight cotton fill and carry handle make it easier to transport. The durable cotton twill exterior is soft and feels nice on your skin. The cotton may take a short time to break in but once you do it conforms really well to your body. If you decide to get one, you’ll want to keep it for yourself and get your spouse their own.
4. Kapok Filled Zafu With Kapok Fabric
This zafu starts out very firm but begins to conform quickly. What I like is that it doesn’t take a lot of time to break in. What I don’t like is that there’s no zipper to remove/add stuffing if you wish. Other than that, this is a very comfortable cushion that gets more comfortable as you break it in.
The material is a kapok fabric which is unique. Its comfortable against your legs and durable at the same time. It’s hand made and double stitched so you won’t have any problems with splitting seams. There’s also no zipper which can be good in the sense that there’s no zipper to break. Overall, this is a very durable and high quality cushion.
This zafu pillow is priced in mid/high range. However, its double stitched, hand made and stuffed with natural kapok from Thailand. Its clear that this is a quality product that will last for years and therefore justifies the expense.
- Hand made
- Comes in traditional Thai designs
- Double stitched seams for added durability
- Unique kapok fabric that’s both hypoallergenic and comfortable
- Breaks in and conforms to your shape quickly
- Light weight and has a carry handle
- Many styles to choose from
- No zipper on the side
- May feel stiff until broken in
Summary: I like the look and feel of this Thai style zafu. It comes a little stiff and I think this is because they over stuff it with kapok fiber knowing that it’s going to break in quickly. It easily allows you to maintain an erect spine while comfortably sitting for longer periods in meditation.
It’s priced on the mid/high end when compared to the others we’ve reviewed but worth the money; especially when you consider that its made by hand. Overall this is a high quality zafu for both beginning and experienced meditators.
5. Peace Yoga Round Zafu | Buckwheat Filled
This zafu is buckwheat filled and sits about 5″ off the ground. Its a great height for maintaining proper spinal alignment during meditations. It comes in 16″ and 13″ sizes and you have the option of buying this with a memory foam top (very comfy). Overall, this is a super comfortable zafu for any meditator.
This cushion is made from a strong outer cotton cover that feels like it would last for a many years. The outer cover is also machine washable so you can clean it anytime. Its filled with buckwheat which doesn’t break down easily and can be refilled at will. The zipper is solid and the cushion comes with a one year warranty. Overall it’s a very reliable cushion.
The Peace Yoga Zafu comes in right around the average price range. Its build solid and doesn’t require a significant investment for you to get started. And it comes with a one year warranty so if anything happens, you can always send it back.
- Memory foam top as an option
- Removable and machine washable cover
- Affordably priced
- Comes in two sizes
- Several color options
- Easily refillable
- A little heavier than cotton or kapok
- May have to remove some buckwheat if its too firm
Summary: This buckwheat zafu is a great buy. I especially like the option for the memory foam top. While buckwheat is comfortable on its own, its firm like a mound of beach sand. If that’s too firm for you, then electing to get the memory foam top will make this a very comfortable and stable cushion you’ll enjoy for years to come.
There you have it. We searched far and wide to find the best zafu cushions on the market and I must say, it was fun! From buckwheat to kapok to cotton, each one made the list. However, buckwheat zafus tend to rank the highest. They hold up the longest, conform nicely and maintain firmness.
While all of these cushions are top rated and any would be a great buy, our #1 pick for best zafu from this review is the Seat of Your Soul Buckwheat Mediation and Yoga Cushion. It consistently ranked the highest across the board and provides great value for the money.