Monday, January 21, 2013

How to Select a Meditation Bench or Seiza Bench

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.

  1. 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.
    1. Flat Bench Seat - many benches come with flat bum support.  Simple and straight forward.  This design becomes uncomfortable for me with extended sitting.
    2. Flat Meditation Bench Seat
    3. 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.
    4. Angled Meditation Bench Seat
    5. 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.
    6. Curved Meditation Bench Seat
  2. 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!
  3. Foot Design - don't overlook this design element; it can make a big difference.

    1. 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.
    2. One Leg Design
    3. 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.
    4. Rounded Foot Design
  4. 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.
  5. Folding Meditation Bench Seat
  6. 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.
  7. Meditation Bench Cushion
In a future post I will show the bench I chose for my sitting and show how I use it and provide a full bench review.  If you make benches and would like me to review your bench please let me know and we can make arrangements.  I would test it for a week of daily sitting before writing the review.  I offer this service to the meditation community because finding the right bench made such a huge difference in my sitting.

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, _/|\_


  1. Veeeery useful! Thank you so much! I didn't even know these benches existed. I'll be building my own soon :)

  2. I made a great seiza bench, with a rise from 7" at the front to 8" high at the back, across an 7" seat that is 17 3/4" wide. I constructed it from full 5/4" thick hardwood (Poplar). The bottoms of the two legs are flat. Gorilla Glue and countersunk construction screws fasten the pieces together. I applied a polyurethane finish to facilitate easy cleaning. All in all, this was an easy, beginner-level wood working project yielding a high quality result, with a total material cost of under $20. My wife and I find the bench useful for foot worship as well as meditation, but this is not the blog for that topic, I suppose. I intend to build a slanted desk soon, to go with the seiza bench. Anybody who wants one of these benches should build their own because it's very easy.


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