Yoga is primarily for (inner) relaxation: the purpose of the exercises is to reduce stress and recharge your batteries. And do it in as relaxed a position as possible – which is much more difficult for beginners than for long-established professionals. Since many positions are performed while sitting completely still, a lot is demanded of the body, more precisely of your spine: the longer you have to sit in an upright position, the more strain you will feel in your back. To relieve your intervertebral discs and support a straight posture, you can use a yoga cushion (zafu). The elevated seating position not only improves the circulation in your legs, but also relaxes your muscles. However, it is important that you find the right seat height to avoid sagging feet or tension pain. Below you will find out what else is important when making a purchase.
1. The seat height
The yoga cushion should be adapted to the body size and flexibility as well as the area of application. As a rule of thumb, you can remember: the flatter the yoga cushion, the more flexible you need to be. Conversely, a seat height of at least ten centimeters is recommended for people up to 1.70 meters - if you practice yoga in the cross-legged or lotus position, the same applies to exercises on the heels. A seat height of at least 15 centimeters is recommended for people with long legs, especially if you suffer from hip problems or unstable knees. Yoga cushions with a seat height of more than 20 centimeters are recommended for people over 1.80 tall who do their exercises cross-legged and have hip problems. In any case, beginners are better served with a higher pillow than with a lower one. Another important indication of a comfortable sitting position is that your knees are always lower than your hips when you are sitting, so that your pelvis remains upright.
2. The filling
Most manufacturers fill the yoga cushions with hard and breathable spelled or millet husks, buckwheat husks or wheat chaff. As a result, the models are particularly dimensionally stable, which roughly means that when you do your exercises on them, the grains are pushed out of your body, but are still stable enough to support your movements. As an alternative to spelled, millet and buckwheat, there are also yoga cushions made of hypoallergenic kapok, i.e. plant fibers that are softer and more elastic, but are suitable for allergy sufferers. Other pillow fillings such as lavender are not recommended in any case, as they spread a strong odor and could distract from meditation.
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The classic yoga cushion is round, but there are also crescent-shaped, rectangular or square models. The most common form is the zafu cushion: It is characterized by a large round seat and is intended to support the natural alignment of the spine so that yoga exercises can be carried out pain-free. On the other hand, a crescent-shaped yoga cushion is suitable for you when you do the exercises in the lotus position (or half lotus). A rectangular one can provide you with the necessary buoyancy for the correct sitting position, the classic block cushion is filled with soft kapok and is still considered a firm support for the back, pelvis and hips.
4. The color
It has been scientifically proven that colors have a major impact on our perception and can evoke certain feelings or moods. For this reason, color theory also plays a role in yoga - red is said to be able to promote the flow of energy, violet promises more balance and calm, yellow has a mood-lifting effect and blue has a calming effect. The color orange, on the other hand, is said to promote inner healing and green to make breathing easier. Whether this effect can only be caused by a yoga cushion remains questionable. Therefore, you should choose a color that you feel most comfortable with. This also applies to size and shape.
If you're still a yoga beginner and can't decide which seat height is right for your exercises, you can use a trick: Use a yoga cushion that you can adjust in height - by zipping the filling material over a separate zipper remove or fill up. This gives you the opportunity to determine the optimal seating position for your individual needs.
If you are struggling with knee problems or are not a fan of yoga cushions but are still looking for support for your back, there is a sensible alternative: the meditation bench. The slightly sloping seat and additional padding support your spine and help you sit up. The model is suitable for people who want to meditate for a particularly long time - its ergonomic shape helps with deep abdominal breathing. Here, too, there are different sizes that are based on your height: the smaller model is best for people under 1.80 meters, if you are over 1.80 tall, the larger model is recommended. The wood from which the meditation bench was made provides the necessary stability. The upholstery cover is usually made of cotton, but the fabric is usually not removable or washable. You should be aware of this before you buy it, otherwise a yoga cushion would be a better choice. Especially for people who are allergic to house dust and depend on being able to regularly clean the materials used in the washing machine.
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