Long story short: If the extent of your practice is sitting in half lotus, or simply cross-legged (like us), you’re probably looking for a zafu. In any case, an exceptional meditation cushion lends a solid foundation that provides extra height to elevate your hips and pelvis, allowing you to focus on keeping your spine elongated for proper posture.
The Reehut zafu — a classic wheel type — was comfortable for all of our testers, but if you’re not as flexible or have ankle issues, it’s worth looking at adding a zabuton mat (see: our $$$ pick). Designed to be placed under zafus, zabutons provide extra protection for your ankles and knees, depending on your meditation posture of choice.
The key with zafus is finding one with the appropriate height and surface area for your body. That’s where the Reehut zafu gets major points: It comes in three diameter sizes (12-inch, 13-inch, and 16-inch), offering enough surface area to comfortably support a range of tush sizes. It’s only 4.5 inches high across all three sizes, though, which may be a deal breaker for taller folks looking for something with more height to prevent knee and/or ankle discomfort.
Filling material and ease of adjustability are additional crucial elements for selecting the right meditation cushion. The majority are filled with kapok or buckwheat hulls, and often the filling is labeled as “natural” or “organic” to appeal to consumers who care about that sort of thing. Kapok is a fluffy, cotton-like material that comes from the eponymous tree and has been used as traditional zafu filling in China for millennia. Buckwheat hulls are the outer shell of buckwheat grain and once was considered a waste product, but as meditation cushion filling, their perfect purpose has been discovered.
We say that because all of our picks contain buckwheat hull filling, and we found that for cross-legged sitting, the support that buckwheat provided was superior to kapok. Buckwheat, by virtue of being a heavier, denser filling, is also easier to remove and refill than kapok, which is light enough to float in the air and can easily make a mess. Note that if you plan on meditating on your knees, some experts say that kapok filling is the way to go, as it has a silkier texture that provides more sensitivity.