Saturday, November 23, 2013

How to Select a Meditation Cushion - Revisited

Inflatable Meditation Cushion
Inflatable Meditation Cushion
In my previous post on how to select meditation cushions I only briefly mentioned inflatable cushions.  I would like to come back and revisit this topic.

For reasons I can't really explain, I decided to give inflatable cushions another try.  I'm really glad I did. They have become my favorite type of zafu. Here's why.

In my first round with an inflatable cushion I never felt very stable.  It was sort of like balancing on a beachball (and many versions of these are literally beachballs in a cloth cover.)  What I discovered in my second run at inflatable cushions was that I did it wrong the first time.

My original approach was to sit on it like I would any zafu.  This time I found that the trick to inflatable zafus is that you need to mount them slightly differently.  Start by sitting on it like you would on any meditation cushion.  I sit cross legged usually with my right leg on top.  Then put both of your arms straight down on the ground lifting your weight and roll slightly backward with your legs still in the crossed position or lotus position and release the weight on your arms.  This "locks" you in place on the zafu.  You should feel very steady and balanced.  Your weight should be evenly distributed between your bum and knees.

One word of caution.  If you "over-lock" by rolling back too far the zafu can put a lot of pressure on your ankles. You might not notice it until you get up.  I had a day of recovery from over-locking.  The zafu should probably be touching you heels but make sure it's not putting much downward force on them.

One other caution.  When your first sit on the inflatable zafu, before you lock in, it can be wobbly.  If you have existing back pain I would wait until it clears up before giving this a try.  With a healthy back it's no problem but it could exacerbate an existing problem.

The reason the inflatable zafu has become my favorite meditation cushion is because once I lock into position it does the best job of helping me sit erect with a natural, slight forward curve to my spine.  This helps relieve pressure in my lower back much better than either kapok or buckwheat hulls.

With my nirvana on inflatable zafus, I have a new set of preferences.  The inflatable zafu and the seiza or meditation bench are now equally comfortable for my sitting.  I use each on alternate days to move the body stresses around (I'm in this for the long haul.)

The Pros for the inflatable meditation cushion are: lightweight, easy to deflate and pack for trips, great support for good sitting posture.

The Cons for the inflatable meditation cushion are: can be punctured, tricky to learn how to sit on it initially.

I bought a specific model called the ZenAir Meditation Cushion.  The reason I bought this model is because it has a heavy gauge air bladder designed to be used as a meditation cushion.  Many (all others I found on the internet) used a beachball for a bladder.  I didn't test any of these so they might be equally good.  If you are interested in the model I use you can find them by clicking here (I don't get any benefit if you do - just trying to be helpful.)

Normally I would have bought a beautiful Zen black version.  However, I purchased a maroon version this time because I travel.  My experience is that black items sneak under hotel beds, or hide in dark corners of a closet, never to be seen again. My hope (currently untested) is that the maroon will be easier to spot when I'm packing up.

Namaste and Friendly Bows _/|\_

Quick Update:  The bladder in a new ZenAir is a little stiffer when it's new and gets even more comfortable the more you use it.


  1. Congratulations for your articles.

    Do you have trouble with you inflatable cushion being noisy whenever you move, like sitting down and getting up or even just shifting you legs? If so, were you able to find a solution that would prevent the noise?

    Thank you! Gassho, Isshin

  2. I don't have a problem with noise from the inflatable cushion. It is covered with cloth which eliminates some potential noises. This particular cushion also uses a special bladder, rather than a beach ball, which might also help. The noise level is not very different than any other cushion I've used.


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