The yoga world is full of many tools that are used to both enhance and support your practice. The “Prop it like it’s hot” series will review a number of different yoga props, and how practitioners can use them as a base for modifying, or in some cases, deepening your asana practice. For this portion of the series, we’re reviewing meditation cushions.
While the name suggests that this prop is used primarily for meditation, we’ll review how a meditation cushion can also help to enhance more active postures for both beginner and advanced practitioners.
Using the cushion for a seated meditation
Often, meditation is challenging for people who are starting out, as people find that there are too many distractors to tune out. One challenge is finding a comfortable position to sit in for an extended period of time. Meditation cushions in this regard provide a perfect balance between a firm surface that provides appropriate support for the sacrum, but enough compliance to contour to the shape of your pelvis. While many people assume you sit in the middle of a meditation cushion, we actually encourage practitioners to sit on the edge, allowing the cushion to slightly elevate the posterior surface of the pelvis. This encourages a slight anterior pelvic tilt. By sitting on the edge of the cushion, and allowing the hips to roll forward slightly, we encourage the natural curvature of the lumbar spine into lordosis, allowing us to comfortably stack our shoulders over our hips.
Using the cushion for forward folds
Tight hamstrings and general tension in the pelvic region is a common ailment in a culture conditioned to sit for long periods of time. In these cases, seated forward folds, such as paschimottanasana as well as baddha konasana with a forward fold can be particularly challenging. As it does with a seated meditation, sitting at the cushion’s edge can facilitate a gentle anterior pelvic tilt, encouraging a soft forward fold while maintaining proper alignment of the lumbar spine. This encourages proper alignment in our forward folds, and prevents the tendency towards rounding the lower back.
Using the cushion for twists
The compliance of the meditation cushion allows it to conform to our pelvis, but it’s equally firm nature provides enough support to allow us to remain grounded in our posture. In seated twists, due to tightness in our hips, often times one side of our pelvis will have difficulty remaining connected to the earth resulting in a lopsided seat that is unstable to perform a twist from. With the help of a cushion, we can have an even distribution of weight through our base to allow us to focus on a deeper rotation through our spine.
Using the cushion for active postures
Many yoga postures require us to bear weight through our knees, which for many can be an uncomfortable experience. We can maintain the integrity of these postures, such as a low crescent lunge, with our knees propped on a comfortable surface like a meditation cushion that allows us to go deeper into the posture, without having to endure pain during the hold. For deep postures such as the front splits (hanumanasana) or any modified variation, the meditation cushion propped under our back leg allows for support through that limb, but gives space for the pelvis to go even deeper into the asana.
We have meditation cushions available for purchase at both our south and north locations. If you have experience using meditation cushions or meditation props in your practice, please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org with your experience! If there are any specific props you’d like to see in our “Prop it Like it’s Hot” series, again please contact us via email@example.com or our various social media streams (twitter, Instagram, Facebook).