1Massage Store Blog - Posts Tagged ‘Zafu’

Meditation Positions for Beginners

Seiza position for meditation

Seiza position for meditation

Finding a position that’s comfortable and supportive is important for beginning meditation. Remaining completely still for any period of time is difficult for most Americans, and if you’re uncomfortable, it makes it even harder.

If you’re just starting out with meditation, don’t feel like you have to twist yourself up like a pretzel. A simple posture will provide just as much benefit.

In Buddhist philosophy, the mind, body, and breath are intricately connected. How you sit will affect the quality of your breathing and your mental focus.

Correct Posture

Keeping your back straight with good posture is important no matter which meditation position you choose. This allows the diaphragm to move freely as you breathe more deeply. If you are sitting on the floor, you may need a pillow (called a zafu) to raise your buttocks and help you keep your body upright with very little effort.

Chair Position

Sitting in a chair is the simplest way to begin your meditation practice. It’s also the best option for individuals who suffer from back pain or other discomfort that makes sitting on the floor difficult. Keep your feet flat on the floor. Use a backrest if needed, but keep your body upright and your back straight. You can use a zafu pillow behind your back to help your posture, or you can sit on the front third of the zafu in the same you would use it on the floor.

Floor Positions

Sitting on the floor helps you feel more grounded and stable. Meditation cushions such as a zafu and zabuton can make sitting on the floor more comfortable. Use the zafu to raise your hips and make it easier to keep your body upright. Sit on the front third of the zafu cushion. You can either sit with your knees bent in a kneeling position with the zafu under you (seiza position) or with your legs crossed in front of you and both feet on the floor, in the Burmese position.

The Burmese, half Lotus, and Lotus positions require flexibility. Only attempt to sit in these positions if you can do so comfortably. Otherwise they may interfere with your ability to meditate.

Photo Credits: Kanzeon Zen Center on Flickr

Lotus Position for Meditation

Full lotus position

The full lotus position is the most stable and most difficult meditation position.

If you prefer to sit on the floor for meditation, a zafu and zabuton can make your sitting posture more comfortable. Below are descriptions of the basic seiza and lotus positions for meditation.

Seiza Position

The seiza position involves kneeling, with your buttocks resting on your heels. For comfort and support, you can kneel with the zafu between your legs or under your buttocks. Kneeling with your buttocks on your heels can be uncomfortable for beginners, since your knees may start to ache or other body parts may fall asleep.

Burmese Position

To assume the Burmese position, sit on the zabuton with your legs folded in front of you, one in front of the other. Your knees and buttocks will form the base of a pyramid structure. Use a zafu to raise the hips slightly for more comfort.

Lotus Position

To transition into the quarter lotus position from the Burmese position, lift one foot and rest it on the opposite calf.

For the half lotus, rest one foot on the opposite thigh. This position is almost as stable as the full lotus position. Both knees should touch the floor, and your spine should be straight. Alternate legs for each sitting.

For the full lotus position, cross your left foot over your right thigh and your right foot over your left thigh (or vice versa). As in the half lotus position, alternate legs with each sitting.


Be careful not to force any meditation position. Your knees should be strong, healthy, and flexible for any of these sitting positions. Do not force a certain posture. The body should be comfortable, upright, and relaxed during meditation.

New! Crescent Zafu Meditation Cushion

Crescent Zafu

New at OneTouch! Crescent Zafu, available in red or black

Why do you need a special cushion to meditate? A meditation cushion can make your practice more comfortable and productive by keeping your mind off your aching body and by providing a special place to meditate. Using the cushion specifically for meditation can signal to your mind that it’s time to let go and simply be aware of the present.

The crescent-shaped zafu cushion gives you just enough height to sit up straight naturally with your legs crossed. Place the zafu on top of a blanket, rug, yoga mat, or zabuton for added comfort.

The crescent zafu pillow is filled with organic buckwheat hulls for stable cushioning, and the 100% cotton twill cover is removable for washing. This meditation pillow is available in black or red.

Sitting Postures for Meditation

Zafu and Zabuton

A zafu and zabuton provide support for traditional sitting postures.

If you’re interested in learning to meditate, one of the most basic questions to ask first is “How do I sit?” While there are no hard and fast rules about sitting postures, there are a few guidelines to help you find the most comfortable position. The most important advice we can give you is to find a sitting posture that allows you to be comfortable, stable, and alert.

Sitting in a Chair

You can either choose to sit in a chair or on meditation cushions, such as a zafu and zabuton. If you are sitting in a chair, keep your back straight and your feet flat on the floor. You can use a zafu pillow behind your back for support.

Sitting on the Floor

Sitting on the floor offers the most stable position, if you are able to do it. A zafu raises your seat off the floor and makes it easy to sit with your knees on the floor and your back upright. If the floor is hard or cold, use a zabuton or folded blanket underneath the zafu.

Sit on the front third of the zafu with your knees on the floor and your legs folded in towards your body.

Sitting Postures

There are three traditional sitting positions for meditation: Burmese, Half Lotus, and Full Lotus.

In the Burmese position, your legs should be crossed and the tops or sides of both feet should rest on the floor. If your knees are not flexible enough to be comfortable in this position, place a cushion under your knees.

In the Half Lotus position, one leg should be placed on the opposite thigh and the other leg tucked underneath. Adjust your upper body to remain upright.

In the Full Lotus position, both legs should be crossed, with the feet resting on your thighs and both knees on the floor. This is the most stable position, but it requires flexibility. Do not try to force yourself into this position.

Meditation Cushions: Zafu and Zabuton

The zafu and zabuton provide support and comfort during meditation.

The zafu and zabuton provide support and comfort during meditation.

Why Meditation Cushions?

Feeling comfortable and supported is important to the success of your meditation practice, especially for beginners. You will be more likely to practice meditation daily if you are relaxed and your posture is well supported. If your back starts to ache or your knees hurt from resting on the hard floor, you’ll have a difficult time focusing on your inward state.

Meditation cushions can help you quiet your mind by removing the distraction of physical discomfort. Finding a comfortable sitting position for the length of your meditation is not always easy, but with the support of a zafu and zabuton, you will have the support and comfort that you need for a successful practice.

Types of Meditation Cushions

There are two basic types of meditation cushions: the zafu and the zabuton. A zafu pillow provides just the right amount of height for natural alignment of the spine in kneeling, sitting, and cross-legged positions.

The zafu cushion is available in round or half-moon shapes. Material such as buckwheat hulls or natural kapok are used for filling so that the pillow does not “settle” when you sit on it and will retain its shape over years of regular use. The firm support keeps your body and spine in alignment.

The zabuton cushion protects your knees and ankles. This large, flat pillow acts as a floor mat between the zafu and the floor—no need to worry about the floor being too cold, hard, or dirty. Most zafu and zabuton cushions include a removable cover to make it easy to keep your pillows clean.

Meditation Cushions: How the Zafu and Zabuton Aid in Meditation

The zafu and zabuton aid in proper posture and relaxation during meditation.

The zafu and zabuton aid in proper posture and relaxation during meditation.

Why use meditation cushions? Why not just sit directly on the floor or use any kind of pillow on hand to support your posture? Good question. Although meditation can be done without any special supplies, if you meditate for long periods of time, meditation cushions can greatly help in maintaining proper posture.

Posture and Meditation

Proper posture during meditation includes a straight spine and a relaxed lower abdomen for deep breathing. Meditation cushions can help you maintain this proper posture and increase the comfort and length of your meditation practice. The more comfortable you are, the longer you will be able to meditate.

Zafu Meditation Cushion

The two main types of meditation cushions are the zafu and zabuton. The zafu is a round pillow filled with a material such as buckwheat hulls that raises the buttocks in order to straighten the spine and relax the lower abdomen.

Because of the density of the filling, the person sitting on the zafu does not sink down into the pillow, as they would with a pillow stuffed with cotton batting or down feathers. The zafu offers firm support as well as cushioning. The fact that the zafu maintains its height means that it is easier to maintain your posture.

Zabuton Meditation Cushion

The zabuton is a square cushion that offers base support underneath the zafu. It offers a thicker cushion than a blanket, and like the zafu, it offers firm support as well as cushioning. In the seiza (kneeling) position, the zabuton helps cushion the knees.

The zafu and zabuton cushions can be used for a variety of poses, including the Burmese posture, the half Lotus, and the seiza position. Other types of meditation cushions are available for extra support. For example, you can place a flat, square pillow underneath the zafu for extra height, or you can place small, rectangular pillows under the knees for extra cushioning.

Feelings of pain, achiness, and discomfort can easily discourage beginners from continuing to practice meditation, but with the support that meditation cushions provide, the mind is able to focus on meditation instead of achy joints.

Zafu and Zabuton Meditation Cushions Now at 1MassageStore.com

Meditation cushions are now available from OneTouch Massage. These cushions provide stable but soft support for traditional cross-legged and kneeling positions by raising the hips slightly above the floor.

The zafu and zabuton pillows are filled with organic buckwheat hulls and covered with 100% cotton twill material. The fabric covers can be removed for easy cleaning.

Zafu - available in black or white

Zafu - available in black or white

OneTouch meditation pillows are available as a set (zafu and zabuton) or zafu cushion only. The meditation set offers increased comfort and support with the large square zabuton pillow acting as a buffer against the cold or hard ground. These pillows are currently available in black or white colors.

Round Zafu Pillow
  • Traditional, round-shaped zafu cushion 13″ x 6″
  • Filled with organic buckwheat hulls
  • 100% natural cotton twill fabric
  • Removable cover for easy washing
  • Available in black or white
  • Only $39.99
  • Free shipping to the lower 48 U.S.
Zafu and zabuton - available in black or white

Zafu and zabuton - available in black or white

Zafu and Zabuton Meditation Cushion Set
  • Round zafu cushion 13″ x 6″
  • Square zabuton cushion 28″ x 29″ x 1″
  • Filled with organic buckwheat hulls
  • 100% natural cotton twill fabric
  • Removable covers for easy washing
  • Available in black or white
  • Only $59.99
  • Free shipping to the lower 48 U.S.