While the majority of lower-priced cushions are limited in shape, size, and the kinds of premium materials you’d find in more spendy models, there are still some worthwhile picks, especially if you’re just starting your practice. Among a budget field that frankly offered little to no variation between styles, the Reehut Zafu Meditation Cushion was our favorite for its firmness right out of the box.
How you sit is a crucial part of any meditation practice, but when you’re searching for a sitting surface that must be comfortable for an extended period of time, the style of cushion becomes even more important. The traditional zafu is the most popular style on the market and comes in three common types: round, crescent, and wheel. There are a few other styles available, like low-slung rattan chairs and wooden benches, but honestly you shouldn’t consider them unless you’re a Buddhist monk.
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.
The Reehut zafu isn’t necessarily luxurious to the touch, but it does have an organic cotton hemp cover that’s available in four colors (green, purple, black, and dark gray). Our testers’ favorite feature — one that elevated its status beyond others at this price point — was that the cushion’s filling was secured in a separate interior compartment from the exterior cover. This helps keep the filling fresher and more securely contained, while also making it easier to adjust the density to suit your comfort and support needs. (You can order extra buckwheat hulls to increase and/or replace your filling.)
Other plusses: The Reehut’s cover doesn’t expose the zipper and is machine washable. That said, this cushion isn’t ideal for pet owners because it quickly collects dust and hair, and it would require a regular brush with a lint roller. If you’re pet-free, prefer a shorter cushion, and aren’t put off by a plain design, the Reehut is a great option for you — and your wallet.