Seiza posture using an omni bench (left) and a zafu and zabuton set (right).
The seiza (pronounced say’-zah) pose, or kneeling position, has been the formal way of sitting since ancient times in Japan and is now, in the modern day, practiced in traditional ceremonies and settings there. Buddhist monks adopted this pose as a way to honor the Buddha during their meditations, which is how it came to be associated with meditation around the world and not just Japanese customs. It is attained by kneeling on the knees and resting the buttocks on the feet while keeping the back straight and upright. This position is believed to be great for improving flexibility and posture over time, while also allowing for mindful meditation and deep breathing.
It is common, especially for Westerners who are not accustomed to sitting on the floor for extended periods of time, to use a zafu and zabuton meditation cushion set or a meditation bench as a seat while practicing seiza, as a way to prevent ankle and knee pain. People who sit predominantly in seiza position to meditate usually use a bench because it provides superior support to the lower back. Adding a bench cushion on top (as pictured) can add an extra layer of cushioning as well. Additionally, our studio and organic Hi-Zafu cushions offer some extra height and support compared to what the traditional zafu offers. These are a great choice for those who want the comfort and versatility of a zafu cushion while practicing seiza meditation pose, but are a bit less flexible and/or need extra support.
Meditation tip: If you experience pain in the front of your ankle or top of your foot in seiza position even while using a cushion or bench, try letting your feet slope down the back of the zabuton, like our model demonstrates in the photo above.