When I started meditation I used to force myself to sit in complicated yoga postures that eventually led to injuries in my lower back and knees. Although I cured my problems but I learned a valuable lesson, “never force your body into discomfort while meditating”.
In fact, forcing yourself to sit in complex yoga poses for long periods of time can cause permanent damage to your body. You have to first develop fixability if you really want to sit in those postures.
I used to be highly impressed by pictures of monks sitting on the ground, and I used to think that that’s the only way to meditate. However, after talking to a couple of expert meditation practitioners, I realized that sitting on the ground may not be a good starting point.
So I took the help of a meditation chair for the first year of my practice. Side by side, I worked on my flexibility, loosened the tightness in my knees, hips, and hamstrings, and finally I was able to sit on the ground. However, I still do use a meditation cushion (traditionally known as the Zafu).
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There is absolutely nothing wrong with practicing meditation sitting on a chair. I know of many accomplished practitioners who still meditate using a chair. Don’t ever think for a moment that you’ll be less of a meditator if you use an accessory in your practice.
Meditation should never be a painful experience. In fact, the whole purpose of meditation is to relax and calm your mind. But you will never be able to achieve that if you’re in discomfort.
The problem is that almost every yoga and meditation blog out there is full of pictures of attractive models with slender figure and high flexibility. But that is not the case in real life. We come in all shapes and sizes with varying levels of flexibility.
Therefore, it does make sense to take care of your body, at least till you develop the required flexibility. And for that purpose, I recommend some of the most popular meditation benches and chair that can make your meditation an enjoyable experience.
Why do I have a buy a meditation bench? Can’t I use a regular chair?
That’s what I did when I got started. Why buy a chair specifically for meditation when you have so many regular chairs lying around in your house … right?
Here are a few problems with the regular chairs you have at home:
- These regular chairs have not been designed for long periods of sitting.
- Most of them don’t have the required support to accommodate your lower back.
- They don’t provide elevation to your hips. If your hips are below the level of your knees, you will never be comfortable. You will end up with one of your legs going numb after a couple of minutes.
- They lack cushioning for a comfortable seating.
I started out with a dinning chair ( … yeah that was stupid), and within two days I messed up my back. I was so excited about meditation that I didn’t pay attention to basic fundamentals.
Everything about my practice was wrong: the positioning of my hands; my posture; even the way I breathed. My chair was extremely uncomfortable and I knew that I needed something more comfortable. Something that is designed especially for this purpose.
Benefits of Using a Meditation Chair
Some of the benefits of using a meditation chair are as follows.
Back alignment and support
A meditation chair is specifically designed to provide support and alignment to your back and legs. All that extra pressure is removed from the back. For people suffering the back problems, it’s difficult to sit on the ground, but that should not be a problem to their meditation practice.
They also keep hips higher than the level of your knees which relieves pressure on them. This also takes care of leg nerves getting pinched and prevents legs from going numb.
Enjoyable Meditation Experience
The core objective of meditation is to reach a place of restful calm where the mind is silent. We experience real happiness only when the mind is calm. A turbulent mind creates the opposite effect. Not only does it generate unhappiness, it also compromises our ability to focus and concentrate.
Meditation chairs takes pressure off various parts of our body and helps in maintaining focus. The mind cannot remain calm unless and until the body is still and relaxed.
If there’s pain or discomfort in any part of the body, the mind will automatically become focused on that particular part and start generating unpleasant thoughts about it.
Ergonomic Design and Portability
Meditation benches are designed ergonomically to enable the practitioner to sit for long periods of time with minimum effort. The components are angled in a manner so as to relieve pressure off back and joints in the lower part of the body.
This not only promotes improved posture but also prevents injury. Most of them are light weight (except a few), portable, and come in beautiful colors and designs.
So if you are getting started with meditation or/and have issues with flexibility, here’s a list of popular meditation benches I found on Amazon that you can purchase in order to have a comfortable meditation experience.
Alexia Meditation Seat (Zen Yoga Chair)
If you are looking for the most ergonomically correct meditation seat, let me introduce you to the Alexia Meditation Seat (winner of the Reddot design award, 2016). This is a lot more than just a cushion. In fact, it’s a complete seat.
If you have painful knees or issues with lower back, ordinary cushions will not be enough. Alexia enables you sit in the easy seated pose (cross-legged or sukhasana pose) and provides support to your knees, hips, and lower back, and keeps the spine in perfect alignment.
- It’s ergonomic design helps in keeping the correct posture.
- Maintains the natural ‘S’ shape of the spine by providing a sloped sitting area.
- Prevents tear and degeneration of muscle joints.
- It raises the hips to reduce pressure on knees.
- Sleek design with richly colored fabric and vegan leather.
- Designed to provide support to lower back, ischium, knees, instep, and feet.
- It is available in a variety of colors.
- Easy to clean and smells nice.
- It is a little expensive.
- Slightly heavy to move around.
Although, this one is a little pricy, but I think this is a great option for elderly and other people who have low flexibility in their joints. Many have reported being able to easily meditate continuously for over 20 minutes using this seat.
Friends of Meditation Extra Large Relaxing Meditation and Yoga Chair
Extra-large Relaxing Meditation and Yoga Chair has been specially designed to provide back support that enables the practitioner to sit in complex yoga poses with ease.
My personal opinion is that this is an ideal solution for someone who’s very new to meditation and has issues with flexibility. The seating area (zafu) is separately attached to the base to provide elevation to hips and prevent the legs from falling asleep.
This chair has been designed by Swami Dhyan Unmesh (registered yoga teacher) and has been rated no. 1 meditation chair by Wiki Ezvid (USA) under 10 Best Meditation Cushion 2016. With a width of 22 inches (as claimed by the manufacturer) it should be wide enough for most people. Also it comes in multiple color options.
- Adjustable and comfortable with full back support.
- Helps to maintain correct posture.
- Very helpful for people suffering from back pain.
- Elevates hips above the knees and keeps the posture steady.
- Keeps the head and back in perfect alignment.
- Extra-large size accommodates people with large body frame.
- Ideal for vipassana meditation (sitting for long hours).
- Comes with a water resistant casing.
- Comes with a 7 year warrantee.
- It’s a bit large so portability can be an issue.
- The complimentary bag has been reported to be of average quality by some people.
- Might not be suitable if you’re taller than 6 ft 2 inches.
Overall, this is good buy, especially for those with back problems.
Kneeling Meditation Stool (Ergonomic Seiza Seat)
Most people are not trained to sit in cross-legged or easy seating pose for long periods of time. BLUECONY IKUKO Original Meditation Bench is an ideal choice for those who prefer to sit in seiza pose (thunderbolt pose or kneeling).
It maintains a naturally balanced posture and reduces stress and tension. This is a handmade product designed using massive wild cherrywood in Quebec by ergonomic specialists. It is a lightweight product and comes in two variations: the preassembled version (not dismantlable) and the portable (travel) version.
It allows you to select your preferred size (be sure to choose the right size). It comes in three sizes:
- 6 inches for people shorter than 5 ft 4 inches.
- 7 inches (most popular) for people up to 6 ft.
- 8 inches for people above 6 ft.
- Reduces pressure on knees and lower back.
- Is available in different sizes based on your height.
- Ergonomic design helps to keep correct posture.
- Is easily dismantlable by removing the legs (only available in the portable version).
- Frees the lungs and allows for deep breathing.
- Evenly distributes body weight and allows circulation in legs.
- Can be also used for other activities, such as, reading, eating, watching tv, and more.
- The arch in the seat provides optimal comfort and no cushion is required.
- As it is made up of wood, it needs to be protected from moisture, and hence, it is not advisable to leave it out in the open.
Sitting in cross-legged position for long periods of time requires a lot of time and work. And hence, this is a fairly reasonable product that can get you going with your daily meditation practice with great comfort and ease.
bonVIVO Easy II Padded Floor Chair (Semi-Foldable Meditation Chair)
bonVIVO Easy II Padded Floor Chair is a German design with an adjustable backrest for comfortable sitting and lying. It is both a recliner and a chair in one product. It helps in keeping a correct posture and prevents back injuries.
This one has been designed for multipurpose use. You can use it for meditation or simply lie down and watch tv, read a book, etc. The seating is soft and comfortable without any metal parts poking or digging into the body.
You can also take it outside but avoid placing it directly on the ground as it would attract dust and grass blades that would be harder to clean. I would suggest that you place a small mat below it.
- Multipurpose use: Can be used for meditation, watching tv/games, or simply as a recliner.
- Good back support for people with lower back problems.
- Comes with an adjustable backrest.
- Lightweight (6lb) and easily transportable.
- The cover is made up of high quality synthetic fiber than can be easily cleaned with a damp cloth (also washable with lukewarm water).
- No harmful materials used (REACH Certificate of the European Union)
- Available in different colors.
- Reasonably priced.
- Supports a body weight only up to 220lb (100 kg).
- Some people have reported a chemical smell (which fades away after some time).
Leewadee Meditation Set: Zafu Cushion
Leewadee Meditation Set strictly speaking is not a meditation bench but a combination of a cushion (zafu) and base (also known as zabuton). So if you don’t need back support this would be an ideal choice. The best posture for this product would be the easy (sukhasana) or perfect (siddhasana) seating pose.
Both cushion and matt (30 inches thick) are very comfortable and are filled with untreated kapok, a plant fiber taken from a tropical tree.
- Very comfortable for sitting in easy pose.
- The cushion proves elevation to the hips and relieves pressure on the knees.
- The matt provides comfort to the ankles and is wide enough (30 inches x 28 inches)
- Reasonably priced.
- The covers don’t come off. So the only way to clean it either by vacuuming or dry-cleaning.
- Not very suitable for long periods of meditation. However, people have reported no issues meditating for up to 20 to 30 minutes.
Meditation Bench – Acacia Wood
This meditation bench is again for those who like to sit in the thunderbolt (kneeling) pose. This chair takes the pressure off your legs and allows for long periods of meditation.
The bench lets you kneel in the natural position, maintains your posture, and gets rid of problems like legs falling numb, and pain. It is a handmade product made out of sustainable acacia wood.
- It is quite sturdy and durable.
- Helps in maintaining the natural curve of the back.
- The legs are securely fastened. And no ugly looking screws are visible.
- Extremely beneficial for people with knee problems.
- Available in multiple colors.
- This bench is not foldable.
- It is best for people below the height of 6 feet. If you’re taller, it might be a little uncomfortable. However, in my opinion kneeling position should not be a problem even for taller people.
The products mentioned above are some of the best items that I have reviewed in this post. But what is best for you will depend on your goal and what makes you feel comfortable. Only you know what’s best for you.
If you’re looking for absolute comfort (back, knees, and legs); can spend a little more than the usual; need a high durability product – hands down, Alexa Meditation Chair is the best option we have available today.
If you don’t want to spend that much, but still want comfort, go for Extra-large Relaxing Meditation and Yoga Chair.
The above two products, although costly, are most suitable for people who have injuries in their middle and lower parts of the body, and have low flexibility in general.
Talking about high-end products, there’s another meditation chair you might want to check out. It is called XoticBrands Seagrass Meditation Yoga Chair. The reason I have not included it in the list above is because it’s relatively a new product, and I would like to know a little more before I start recommending it. But feel free to check it out.
If you don’t want to spend that much money but still want a comfortable meditation chair with full back support, then go for bonVIVO Easy II Padded Floor Chair.
Go for the Leewadee Meditation Set if you have medium level flexibility to sit in the easy pose. This product is quite reasonably priced and has low maintenance.
If sitting in traditional yoga poses like the easy pose is difficult for you, then you should opt for a bench that assists you in the kneeling (thunderbolt) posture. In that case, I would recommend either Kneeling Meditation Stool or Acacia Wood Meditation Bench.
When I started meditation I never used to be consistent in my practice. And one of the major factors was the discomfort in my legs while meditating. Just meditating for 10 minutes used to make my legs go numb.
However, my ego was not letting me take help. I struggled for quite some time forcing myself to sit in pain. And at one point I badly injured myself. It took me six months of regular yoga practice and physiotherapy to cure myself.
If you’re thinking of enduring pain, please think again. Any damage caused to any part of your body will hold you back for a long period of time. And some injuries are extremely fatal and can cause permanent damage.
Meditation should not be torturous experience. It should be pleasant. And your body should be as relaxed as possible, otherwise you’ll never reach the true depths of silence and peace.
Once I got my bench – it was a lot easier. Over time I worked on my body and developed the flexibility required to sit on the ground in the cross-legged easy posture. Now I can easily for an hour or more but it has taken more than an year to achieve the same.
Back in those days, these amazing products were not available so I had come up with my own hack. I had got a custom chair designed from a local carpenter. It was costly and also a little uncomfortable, but somehow It did the job for me at that time.
But now we have such wonderful options. They are not very costly, ergonomically designed, and are much better looking visually. So why not invest a little in your own well-being; experience the joy and bliss of meditation; and at the same time protect yourself from injury.