Since I currently use a meditation bench I'll start discussing benches and then cover cushions in a future post.There are 5 main meditation bench design elements. Each of these elements has many ways of being expressed.
- Seat Design - posture is the most critical element in picking your meditation support. You want a bench to support a position that allows your body to take a natural and erect position that can be maintained for extended sitting. Experiment with different designs until you find one that is a good match for your body.
- Flat Bench Seat - many benches come with flat bum support. Simple and straight forward. This design becomes uncomfortable for me with extended sitting.
- Angle Bench Seat - these benches typically have about 1-2 inches of elevation added to the rear of the bench. This helps insure a slight curve on the lower back and I find these to be more comfortable than the Flat Bench Seat design.
- Curved Bench Seat - these seats are very similar to the Angle Bench seat but provide a shape that wraps more around your bum. If the curve is a good match to your curve I suspect these can be quite comfortable. I haven't found one that matches me yet.
- Leg Height - most benches provide about 7.5 (+/- 1) inches of elevation. More elevation is typically helpful if you are less flexible. One thing to keep in mind is that you need enough elevation to accommodate your legs and feet. Most benches assume an average build so you might need a special or custom bench if you are not average. Test before you buy!
- Foot Design - don't overlook this design element; it can make a big difference.
- One Leg or Two Leg Designs - two leg designs tend to dominate. I have seen pictures of some beautiful one leg designs but I have never used one so I can't provide a comparison.
- Flat Foot or Rounded Foot Designs - most benches have a flat foot on the bottom of the legs. Some have a rounded design. The bench I have has a rounded design that I quite like because I can find the angle that is best for my body. I can also slightly shift angles for different sitting periods to ease muscle strain. It takes some playing around to get comfortable with a rounded design but once you find your spot, aaaaahhhhhh. If you have a Rounded Foot Design the bench is frequently "flat" because you create the angle by the angle you pick for sitting.
- Fixed or Folding Design - the legs on a fixed design are rigidly attached to the seat and shown in pictures above. The advantage is a very sturdy bench. Legs on a Folding Design are attached with a hinge. The legs swing down into position when sitting and swing flat against the seat when traveling or storing the seat. I have a Folding Design. I was concerned that it might not provide the solid support I need for sitting but this has not been a problem. It does take a few times to get comfortable getting into sitting position.
- Seat Cushion - some people like having a seat cushion on top of their bench. This provides a little additional height and some cushioning for the bum. I am currently using a small, tacky throw pillow but plan to make a custom cushion eventually.
|Flat Meditation Bench Seat|
|Angled Meditation Bench Seat|
|Curved Meditation Bench Seat|
|One Leg Design|
|Rounded Foot Design|
|Folding Meditation Bench Seat|
|Meditation Bench Cushion|
The one thing that I didn't mention is style. Some meditation benches are beautiful works of art; others are functional 2x4's hammered together. I greatly appreciate the aesthetics and love the bamboo used in my bench but deep sitting is deep sitting.
(Also click here to see my post on How to Select a Meditation Cushion.)
Friendly bows, _/|\_