5 Things to Look for in a Meditation Pillow

 

It actually takes a strong body as well as a strong mind to meditate every day, but that’s not all you need. You also need the right support from your meditation cushion. The right cushion will provide you with the support you need to sit with a straightened spine, in a relaxed, meditative pose, for as long as your practice takes each day.

But it’s not always easy to choose the right cushion for your practice. You need firm support, but the pillow should also be the right height for your body and the right shape for your sitting position and level of flexibility. And, of course, you want a sturdy, durable pillow that will both look nice in your meditation space and last a long time. Here’s what to look for.

Height

The less experience you have with yoga and meditation, the higher your pillow should be in general. That’s because less experienced practitioners have less flexibility and therefore need to keep their hips a bit higher than their knees when sitting in meditation.

The average height of a meditation cushion is about six inches or 15 centimeters. If you can comfortably sit in lotus pose, you will probably get enough support from a lower cushion. If you can sit comfortably in a cross-legged pose, like easy pose, but can’t get into full lotus, a standard cushion height should be sufficient. If you can’t sit comfortably cross-legged at all, you might want to consider buying a meditation bench instead of a cushion — a bench allows you to sit with your knees forward and your legs folded back under your hips, which can be a practice saver if your legs tend to fall asleep during seated poses.

Shape

The shape of your meditation pillow should be suited to the type of pose you like to sit in. A crescent-shaped meditation pillow is somewhere lower and should be suitable for you if you can sit easily in the lotus pose because you’ll just need something that can tilt your hips forward a tad. If you’re using a different cross-legged pose, a round meditation cushion should be sufficient. A large, flat zabuton beneath your meditation pillow will create some padding to cushion your feet and ankles.

Filling

You have a couple of options for filling for your cushion: buckwheat and kapok. Kapok is a soft, cottony fiber that creates a softer cushion, while buckwheat is a grain that creates a firm cushion that will nevertheless conform to the shape of your body. Buckwheat filling creates a firm base and a heavier cushion. Kapok filling creates a softer and lighter cushion, similar to cotton filling, which is also available.

Cover

You need a cushion with a removable cover that you can take off and wash. Some zafus have a zippered cover, while some have a cover that slides off and on. Some don’t have a removable cover at all, and you’ll want to give these a pass. Choose a cushion with a removable cotton or canvas cover that can be machine washed. A cover with a carry handle is also a good idea, especially if you intend to travel with your cushion.

In addition to being able to remove the outer cover to clean it, you also want to be able to open up the inner lining in order to remove or add the filling. This can help you adjust a cushion to meet your needs as you become more experienced in your practice and your body becomes stronger and more flexible. Conversely, if your body should change and you should need to add more filling back to your cushion to make it higher, you may want that option.

Appearance

Many meditation cushions are fairly plain in appearance, but you might want to choose a nice one that will make your meditation area more aesthetically pleasing when you’re not using it. There are plenty of different colors available, and you can also buy cushions made with colorful patterns and prints. Some traditionally hand-crafted cushions from Thailand, Japan, and India are made with beautiful locally printed batik fabrics for years of durability. However, there are lots of solid-color cushions available, too.

Choosing the right meditation pillow for your practice isn’t always easy, especially if you’re new to meditation. Should you buy a crescent-shaped pillow, or a round pillow? What about a meditation bench? It all depends on your practice and what your body needs to feel supported. With the right cushion, you’ll be able to put in the work to get what you need out of your practice.

 

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