[Updated] 7 Best Meditation Cushions to Prevent Back Pain During Meditation

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Sitting down directly on the ground during meditation, without the aid of any meditation cushions can be rather uncomfortable and sometimes painful for me. My lower back protests quite a bit due to my history with lower back pains, my sitting bones hurt after a while, and my calves go completely numb due to lack of circulation.

Given the choice, I prefer meditating in Shavasana – but this is not ideal especially for morning meditations when my intentions are to wake up and be energized, not head right back to sleep with this super relaxing pose!

At first, I thought I was the only one experiencing back pains during meditation classes but realised that this problem was quite common for many without the right tools.

Being distracted with back pains can defeat the purpose of meditation. Thankfully, there are several methods to manage the discomfort and help you meditate fully.

This article provides a high-level overview of why meditation cushions are so awesome for preventing aches and pains during meditation, and provide recommendations of the most highly raved cushions to get.

PS. In case you are new to meditation and would like to find free resources to help you, feel free to check out my article “7 best free meditation apps tried and reviewed

What is the right posture for meditation?

Having the right posture for meditation is more important than using external help from cushions. If you are suffering from back pains during meditation, it may be because you are not sitting correctly.

This is a common issue as many of us have lived with poor sitting habits for years. If you are a frequent traveller like I am, then you will realize that aeroplane and car seats are really bad for your back and cause posture problems.

Meditation Cushions to prevent back pain during seated meditation

Try this for your meditation posture

We focus on seated meditation posture for this post. Here’s how to sit properly for meditation:

  1. Depending on how flexible your hips are, you can sit in a lotus position or simply in a cross-legged position.
  2. You are in the right position when your spinal curves and pelvis are in neutral positions. This means no slouching forward or leaning backwards; keep your spine as straight as possible
  3. Focus on establishing a strong base for your meditation posture by grounding on your sitting bones and lengthening your spine with each inhale – you will find that the alignment should be much easier to achieve.
  4. To support your alignment, have your hips elevated higher than your heels by sitting on a meditation cushion, towel, pillow, or chair
  5. Rest your hands on your thighs with palms facing down or in mudra positions if it is part of your practice
Easy Pose
Easy Cross-Legged Pose

This cross-legged position is also known as Easy Pose (or Sukhasana in Sanskrit).

Besides sitting cross-legged, there are other meditation postures that are commonly practised. You can check out Yoga Journal’s article if you’re keen to learn more.

What types of meditation cushions help?

Sitting cross-legged comfortably is best supported by having a meditation cushion, which provides proper support for your posture.

Not all meditation cushions are the same. Meditation cushions can have different stuffing materials and can take on various shapes for different purposes.

Meditation cushions stuffing materials

  • Kapok fibres: These are natural fibres that come from a tree of the same name typically found in Thailand or Indonesia. The fibres are naturally resistant to mould and are silky and soft as well. Despite its softness, most kapok-stuffed meditation cushions are initially hard as they do need to be broken in – the cushion tends to flatten out after a few sittings. 
  • Buckwheat hulls: Grain-like seeds (mostly organic) that are firm and can last for many years. Buckwheat stuffed cushions move and conform to the shape of the user, making it “custom fit”. Meditation cushions stuffed with buckwheat hulls tend to be more durable, stable and comfortable, and are preferred for long meditation sessions.
  • Cotton: Cotton is a very common material for clothing but is less popular for meditation cushions as it loses its shape easily. In addition, cotton is not resistant to mould and mildew. However, if you are sensitive or allergic to other types of stuffing materials, cotton may be the best option.
  • Synthetic: Synthetic or man-made material is the least popular type of stuffing for meditation cushions. However, synthetic materials are not without its benefits – they are good for those with allergies towards Kapok fibres or Buckwheat hulls, and are also recommended for those requiring softer cushions due to hip joint issues.
  • Others: Other materials such as spelt husks may be used as well. Similar to buckwheat hulls spelt husks conforms to the user but is generally light and more breathable than buckwheat.

4 most commonly used types of meditation cushions

  1. Zafu meditation cushion:
    • Zafus are round Japanese-styled meditation cushions typically filled with kapok or buckwheat. Zafus can be stuffed more or less full (which makes them more or less firm) and can be selected in different heights.
    • Zafu meditation cushions are popular because these can come in pretty patterns or embroidery
    • The good news is that Zafu meditation cushions are adaptable. If you are unable to hold the cross-legged posture for long, you can change up your position: First, sit on your heels kneeling. Next, place the Zafu meditation cushion on its side between your thighs, and sit on it for support.
  2. Zabuton:
    • A Zabuton is a wide and rectangular cushion typically filled with cotton.
    • Most people use Zabutons with zafus to provide an ideal set-up for cushioning the hips all the way to the knees and feet (this is done by placing your Zafu on the Zabuton).
    • A Zabuton is a great investment if you intend to commit to meditation practice.
  3. Crescent or V-shaped cushion:
    • These are the super favourites for people who need more support from the hip to the entire thighs while sitting down.
    • The Crescent cushion slopes downwards towards the legs, supporting the thighs and encourages the pelvis to align in the right direction particularly for those whose hips tend to externally rotate a lot.                
  4. Yoga bolsters or pillows:
    • The yoga bolster is oblong-shaped and is commonly found and used in Restorative Yoga. This is usually filled with cotton to provide a softer feel.
    • Sit directly on the yoga bolster during meditation to lift the pelvis for better spinal alignment
    • Repurpose the bolster for restorative yoga poses
    • If you like a multipurpose meditation cushion for both meditation and yoga, you can try getting a yoga bolster

Top 7 Recommended Meditation Cushions

Peace Yoga Zafu Pillow

 Best for those on a lower budget and require a portable or simple set-up for meditation

Description: This Zafu Pillow from Peace Yoga has a 4.8-star rating on Amazon. It’s no wonder why the Peace Yoga Zafu Pillow balances firmness with pliability using buckwheat hulls.

Colours: Comes in 6 colours including Gray, Turquoise (my favourite colour), Purple, Blue, Black and Green

Materials: Cover is made of cotton (machine washable and removable); Stuffing is made up of buckwheat hulls

Specifications: Comes in two sizes, 13” x 13” or 16” x 16”

Brentwood Home Crystal Cove Meditation Pillow

Best for those who need quality meditation pillow that is still portable and has a customizable firmness

Description: The Crystal Cove cushion has a 5 of 5 ratings on Brentwood website. It is 100% vegan, handmade in the USA using eco-friendly and non-toxic materials. The pillow is great for portability due to its sturdy carry handle.

Colours: Comes in only 1 colour

Materials: The cover is an embroidered soft stretch-knit free from flame retardants, heavy metals, formaldehyde or phthalates. All natural buckwheat hulls make up the stuffing which is held by an inner liner made with GOTS Certified organic cotton.

Specifications: 4lbs and 19” x 13” x 6”

Brentwood Home Crystal Cove Yoga Bolster

Best for multi-purpose use at home, for yoga and for meditation

Description: The Crystal Cove series by Brentwood Home also comes in Bolster form, which is also highly raved by users. Like its pillow counterpart, it is handmade in the USA using eco-friendly and non-toxic materials. Again, it has a sturdy carry handle for portability (though it is definitely still quite heavy to take out of the house at 12lb).

Colours: Comes in only 1 colour

Materials: The cover is an embroidered soft stretch-knit free from flame retardants, heavy metals, formaldehyde or phthalates. All natural buckwheat hulls make up the stuffing which is held by an inner liner made with GOTS Certified organic cotton.

Specifications: 12lbs and 25” x 11” x 6”

YogaAccessories Cotton Zabuton Meditation Cushion

Best for those who need support on the knees and ankles, and already have a Zafu cushion at hand for the full set up

Description: Rated 4.2 out of 5 stars on Amazon, this Zabuton Meditation Cushion from YogaAccessories is filled with 100% natural cotton with 3″ of staffing to provide a solid support for the knees and ankles. The 100% twill cotton cover is easily removed and washed with a full-length zipper.

Colours: Comes in 6 distinct colours and/or patterns including Black, Blue, Red, Green, Purple and Leaf (pattern)

Materials: Cover is made with 100% twill cotton, stuffing is made with 100% pure, natural cotton

Specifications: One size only – 36” x 28” x 3”

DharmaCrafts Zabuton Meditation Mat

Best for those who need a thicker cushion and are willing to invest in a quality cushion for the long term

Description: This Zabuton by DharmaCrafts is rated 4.7 out of 5 stars and is substantially thicker than the YogaAccessories one at 4” worth of stuffing, and comes in regular or jumbo sizes. The Zabuton is made to last for a lifetime (or two) according to DharmaCrafts.

However, the increased quality and height comes at a cost – this Zabuton costs twice as much as the YogaAccessories one. As such, I highly recommend it for those who are committed to meditation for the long term.

Colours:

  • Classic Zabutons come in 5 colours
  • Eco Zabutons come in 6 colours
  • Ikat Zabutons come in Dots or Square patterns
  • Batik Zabutons come in Tropical Night or Turquoise colours
  • Dharma Cloud Zabuton in one colour only

Materials: Staffed with recycled cotton batting in a 100% cotton muslin casing

  • Classic cover is made with 10 oz. 100% cotton duck
  • Eco cover is made with 9 oz., certified 100% organic cotton duck
  • Ikat is 100% handwoven, resist-dyed cotton
  • Batik is 8 oz., 100% cotton twill hand-dyed in Bali
  • Dharma Cloud is 100% brushed cotton

Specifications: Regular zabuton measures 31″ x 26″ x 4″. The jumbo zabuton is meant for long-legged meditators (over 6 feet tall) or need extra room for knees, measures 36″ x 28″ x 4″.

Bean Products Zafu and Zabuton Meditation Cushion Set

Best for those who have a higher budget and/or are in need of support across the knees and ankle bones and feet

Description: This meditation cushion set is rated 4.5 of 5 stars on Amazon and combines the best of both Zafus and Zabutons. They are hand-made using great quality eco-friendly materials.

Both sets have Clean Modern Designs that provide anyone with the most comfortable set-up needed for better spine alignment and cushioning for the hips, knees and ankles for deeper and more effective meditation.

Colours: The cushion set is available in 26 diverse colours.

Materials: Fabric is made with Conventional Cotton, 100% Organic Cotton or our beautiful Earth-friendly 100% Hemp fabric. Zafus are stuffed with USA grown Organic Buckwheat Hulls while Zabutons are filled with cotton batting.

Specifications: Zafus come in 14” (Round) or 18” (XLarge Oval shape), while Zabutons are 26” x 32” x 3”

Moonleap Meditation Crescent Cushion

Best for those who need a long-lasting all-rounder cushion that supports the hips all the way to the legs

Description: The Moonleap Meditation cushion enables the user to sit with the correct posture and spinal alignment by creating a forward tilt in the pelvis to minimize pressure on hamstrings and glutes during long meditations. The pillow is designed with extra “arms” to provide additional support between the thighs and the ground so that cross-legged meditations are much more comfortable.

Colours: Available in 8 colours – check website for in-stock colours here

Materials: Stuffing made with organic spelt husk.

Note: Moonleap cushions are shipped with an additional small quantity of husk that can be added after an initial stretch may have occurred in the cushion fabric.

Specifications: Regular cushion comes in 17″ x 25″ x 7″ and weighs 6.4lbs. Large sizes are available and recommended for people with hip measurements more than 41” or those more than 6’2” in height.


How has meditation cushions helped your practice? Let me know which are your favourites in the comment box below!

Meditation Cushions to prevent back pain during seated meditation

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