All about zafus

In this article I am going to talk to you about why use a zafu and the types of zafus that exist, but if you stay until the end, I will give you my list of recommended zafus.

The zafu or meditation cushion is the only yoga material we need to meditate. Meditation is a practice that is part of yoga and consists of training our mind to redirect our attention. There is a tendency to think that meditation consists of leaving the mind blank, an error that can lead to discouragement and abandonment.

For me, meditation is observing my thoughts, recognizing them, and accepting them, both them and the emotions that may arise.

Meditation is a process of lightening up, of trusting the basic goodness of what we have and who we are, and of realizing that any wisdom that exists, exists in what we already have. We can lead our life so as to become more awake to who we are and what we’re doing rather than trying to improve or change or get rid of who we are or what we’re doing. The key is to wake up, to become more alert, more inquisitive and curious about ourselves.

Pema Chodron

You can meditate sitting directly on the floor, but it is more uncomfortable because the back is not fully aligned and, after a few minutes, physical discomfort may appear. For this reason, it is highly recommended to sit in a zafu, which allows the hips to be raised when sitting cross-legged. The most important thing about a meditation cushion is that it is comfortable so that we can concentrate on the practice.

Why using a zafu during your meditation

Using a zafu is not mandatory, but it is recommended to ensure good posture. In this way, we avoid having discomfort in the neck, back and even the hips or legs. That is why it is better to sit on something elevated, so that the hips are slightly above the knees or at the same height.

Your meditation cushion has to be dense so that we do not sink and have a height that is adequate for us to remain in the posture for a long time.

If you have back pain and cannot sit on the floor for a long time, I recommend sitting in a chair. If you meditate on a chair, sit on your sit bones and do not lean on the back to keep your spine aligned and avoid sinking your lower back, also make sure that your knees are not higher than your hips. Meditating lying on the mat is the least advisable option, because it can decrease your level of attention and fall asleep.

Main characteristics of a zafu

A zafu is a round or crescent- or kidney-shaped cushion. The height of these meditation cushions is usually between 6 and 8 inches, and they are between 12 and 16 inches wide. The highest ones are recommended if when you sit down your knees are too high.

The density of a zafu depends on the material inside. The harder zafus are filled with spelled or buckwheat shells, and the softer ones with fibers from miraguano (kapok), a tropical tree that produces a cotton-like material. A soft meditation cushion is more conformable and adapts more to the shape and orientation of your hips, but this is not to everyone’s advantage. The best thing to do when choosing a zafu is to try which one is the most comfortable for you.

Almost all zafus have a double cover: an inner cover that contains the shells or fibers and an easy-to-wash removable cover that is usually made of cotton. Usually the removable cover has a fabric handle for transport. Traditional zafus only have a cover and when you open it you find the shells directly.

Zafus recommended for meditation

You can take a look to our article reviewing the best zafus and if you need extra cushioning, the best zabutons.

How to sit in a zafu: meditation posture

When sitting, the goal is to be comfortable so that you can lengthen your back without being too stiff or tense. The back must be straight and erect, and the hips must be bent forward. The sitting bones should be on the zafu and the knees on the zabuton or the mat.

We can sit in Siddhasana or perfect sitting posture. Once we have crossed the legs, the heel that is closest to the body has to touch the zafu and the top of the other foot has to lie flat on the zabuton or the mat.

To understand the immeasurable, the mind must be extraordinarily quiet, still.

Jiddu Krishnamurti

Another option is Padmasana or lotus or half lotus pose, which is a bit more difficult. In this asana, the tops of the feet are glued to the top of the opposite thigh.

You can also meditate lying down or sitting in a chair, as long as you don’t fall asleep.

I hope this article has solved all your doubts about meditation cushions and I would like you to share with me your experiences with zafus by leaving a comment on this post.

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