The Best Meditation Pillows to Support Your Mindfulness Practice—and Your Posture
Why You Should Use a Meditation Pillow Or Meditation Cushion
Starting a new stress-relieving practice? Same, friend. Same. If you're dabbling in meditation for the first time, the beautiful thing about the practice is that it's accessible to anyone—there's no shortage of online guided meditations and meditation apps to help you get the ball rolling.
Still, it's understandable if meditation feels daunting at first. How are you supposed to "clear your mind," anyway? And do you really need a meditation pillow to get the job done?
Some experts believe so, especially if you're meditating in the classic cross-legged position. (BTW, you don't have to meditate sitting down—you can also meditate lying down if that's more comfortable.)
"Putting anybody in a cross-legged position for longer than five minutes can lead to problems, especially if they're not used to it," says Jeffrey Armstrong, D.C., a chiropractor based in San Diego.
That goes for young and healthy bodies just as much as frail or injured ones, he adds. People with a decreased range of motion in their hips might be more likely to feel stiff and uncomfortable when sitting cross-legged for too long, he explains. Sitting in this position might even lead to an overstretching injury to the ligaments of the hip joint, he says.
What does this have to do with meditation? Well, meditating often means focusing intently on one particular thing (your breath, for example). If you're distracted by your stiff hips, you probably won't be able to meditate as well, notes Dr. Armstrong.
But a meditation pillow can make the overall experience much more comfortable, he says. "A meditation cushion can relieve stress on the hip capsule by allowing the legs to rest below an elevated pelvis," he explains. "In addition, a meditation cushion can allow for a more erect posture by limiting slouching of the lumbar spine."
Dr. Armstrong's favorite meditation cushion? A couch pillow. "Nothing fancy, just something cushiony with a bit of support and firmness," he says.
But if you're ready to step it up a notch and want something specifically dedicated to your practice, here are the best meditation pillows to support your mindfulness practice and your body.
The Best for Back Pain: Hugger Mugger V-Shaped Meditation Cushion
Need a little back support? Aim for a V-shaped, sloped meditation pillow, suggests Dr. Armstrong. Hugger Mugger is a top brand for these types of meditation cushions, and this particular model is a favorite for those who have lumbar and general back pain. The sloped "legs" of the pillow follow your legs in a cross-legged position to support your knees, while the height in the back tilts your pelvis at the optimal angle. All of this leads to a more comfortable seat while meditating.
But what about lumbar pillows? Dr. Armstrong says you probably don't need one unless you're seriously injured or frail—and, in that case, he has another suggestion: "If someone is elderly or weak, meditation would begin in a flat-back chair, like a dining chair, where you focus on sitting straight up," he says.
The Classic: Brentwood Home Crystal Cove Meditation Pillow
The Brentwood Home Crystal Cove meditation pillow is a perfect basic, made with a buckwheat hull core (an eco-friendly standard in the meditation cushion universe). The buckwheat is enclosed in a cotton liner, within a zip-off, machine-washable cover. The density, weight, and support of this meditation pillow make it ideal for a beginner practice, whereas you may opt for something thinner and lighter as you advance posturally, says Dr. Armstrong.
"The denser the cushion, the better it is for beginner meditators," he explains. "An advanced meditator could use something with less support because their core can handle it."
The Splurge: Alexia Meditation Seat
If you can afford it, the Alexia Meditation Seat is the meditation cushion to invest in. This ergonomic wonder-stool is designed to ease stress and tension in the hips while creating the ideal "easy seated pose," aka sukhasana.
Whether you have knee, back, hip, or foot issues, this soft, supportive meditation cushion has you covered. Fans of the Alexia say it helps with stiff hip flexors, with one reviewer writing that the Alexia helps them sit "way longer" during their meditation practice, despite their spondylosis/stenosis (crushed discs that press against the spinal cord).
The Dual-Purpose: Manduka Enlight Bolster
If you want a multifunctional meditation cushion, opt for a yoga bolster. Not only does it provide ample support for a seated, cross-legged position, but you can also lie on it lengthwise for a more relaxed (read: horizontal) meditation session. One reviewer even says the Manduka Enlight Bolster is her "favorite bolster to cuddle" with, noting it's a great alternative if you find that a traditional buckwheat meditation cushion feels too firm.
Plus, you can use this meditation pillow in your at-home yoga practice, particularly for yin or restorative classes. (Here are more yoga blocks to take your practice to the next level.)
The Best for Knee Support: Gaiam Zafu and Zabuton Meditation Cushion Kit
This two-pillow set from Gaiam is ideal for protecting your knees. The two types of meditation pillows—the small round zafu and the large rectangular zabuton—can be stacked and adjusted to create the most comfortable angle for your joints, while cushioning your knees from the hard floor. (Related: 10 Yoga Poses for a Strong Back)
Also cool: You can add to the buckwheat filling or remove some, based on how much support and firmness you need. Reviewers say the set not only feels supportive, but it's "the best price" you'll find for a quality meditation cushion set.
The Aesthetic: Zafu Pouf - Blue Mandala by CreationsMariposaZen
If you're in this for the cute addition to your apartment (a little meditation sanctuary is the ultimate home improvement, after all), opt for something that's sturdy and stylish.
This zafu meditation cushion from Etsy is decked out with a beautiful blue mandala design that's sure to complement any room in your home. And since this meditation pillow is a little bigger than a traditional zafu, it's perfect for beginners who may not be super flexible in a cross-legged position just yet. "It's just large enough to support my sit bones," wrote one Etsy reviewer.