If your seat (whether that’s a chair, bench, or cushions) is flat, then this will cause you to slump, with all of the problems that follow from slumping.
Your seat should have a slight forward angle, to allow you to be able to sit upright with no effort. As explained earlier, you can achieve a good angle when sitting on a chair by having a 1″ (2.5cm) wooden block under each of the back legs. Even books can be used.
If your chair or stool is too steeply angled, however, then this will tend to throw your weight forward and cause over-arching.
This principle also applies when sitting on cushions, although of course you won’t want to put wooden blocks or books under your zafu. If you sit towards the back of your cushion, your pelvis will tilt backwards, and you will end up slumping. In order to have a slight forward tilt to your cushion, your weight needs to be to the front of the cushion.
It’s ideal if you can actually try out a stool for a while. Once you’ve done a few 30-minute meditations on a stool, you have a good idea whether it’s right for you. However, I must say that if you do an intensive meditation retreat (by which I mean at least seven to eight hours of meditation per day) a stool that you thought was comfortable under less demanding circumstances may reveal its limitations.
An excellent solution to help you find the right angle on your seat is to use a meditation stool with rounded legs, as in the one illustrated. When you sit on such a stool it automatically adjusts to the right angle for your body size, although you may still have to play around with cushions between your bottom and the stool in order to get the right height.
An even better solution, although a more expensive one, is an adjustable-height meditation stool. I often used to use one that had adjustable feet at the front and back of each side of the stool. I could therefore adjust both the height and tilt of the seat. The feet locked in place using thumb-nuts, and no tools were required to make the adjustment. I used that stool for my daily practice and it was generally very comfortable.
More recently I’ve moved to using a Kindseat, which also adjusts in height. The tilt of the Kindseat’s seat adjust automatically to provide the ideal angle for your posture. What’s more, the angle adjusts as you’re sitting on it! If when you’re sitting you move your knees apart or together by even a small amount, this changes the angle of your pelvis, and what was the ideal tilt to your seat is no longer ideal. The Kindseat takes care of that, because the part you’re sitting on adjusts with you. If that makes the Kindseat seem unstable, them I’ve given the wrong impression. It’s a very stable — yet responsive — form of meditation bench. I can’t praise it highly enough.
You can make a basic meditation stool using these instructions (PDF format).
the link with the instructions on how to build your own meditation stool is dead. Could you please mail them to me.
Many thanks for this and a fantastic website
The link is now fixed. Thanks for pointing that out.
All the best,
hi, no offense, but cant i just sit in the floor? what’ll be the complications if i do so?
hope my question makes sense coz i dont speak enlish as well.
Good question. Floors have the same problem as regular chairs — they’re flat and so there isn’t any support to keep the pelvis at an angle that allows the spine to be naturally upright. Also most people, even if they’re very flexible, need the pelvis to be elevated so that the knees can touch the floor and provide support. That’s assuming you’re talking about a cross-legged position. If you’re very flexible it’s jsut about possible to kneel on the floor without support, but you can expect your lower legs to go to sleep.
thank you for the help, very much appreciated.
and yeah, i was talking about the cross-legged position, just forgot to put that up. :)
Normally I meditate on the floor with cushions. Do you have a DIY floor seater with back support?
The easiest DIY solution is to sit with your back against a wall. There are also commercial solutions, and you can search for “backjack” or “nada chair” to find two popular ones.
All the best,
I am a total beginner who has never tried anything like this but i am trying to relax and relieve stress along with all the unhappy thoughts that come with it !! I am 6ft 6″ tall and 18 stone , i have always had posture problems from heavy lifting and working on low tables so my lower back is a problems, please can you recomend a good position for me ?
It’s very hard to say without actually seeing you sitting. You might find a kneeling chair comfortable. They’re generally set up to keep your pelvis aligned such the the lower back is at a healthy angle. You might be able to test one out at an office supply store or a furniture store.
All the best,
Check out FreeChair, it’s my unique design for sitting in the cross-legged position that allows you to find the exact angle for you.
All the best,
Your chair looks like it would be good for people who are very flexible.
All the best,
About the FreeChair, it is actually suitable not only for very flexible people, but I must admit that people with very low flexibility in their hip joint will find it hard to sit on.
Thanks for your feedback about the web-design, it is a recent change which I wasn’t sure of, and now I’m sure to change it back :)
All the best,
I’m very interested in making a chair with rounded legs.
I’m wondering what the best curve would be.
Not sure how to word this request.
In the vernacular of the tradesmen in my area, they would speak of how *tight* or *open* the “radius” (curve) would be.
I’d suggest taking a look at the round-legged meditation benches we have in our store. That’ll give you a rough idea of how open the curve is (and it’s pretty open).
Please can you advise me of suppliers of adjustable meditation stools. I have made my own stool but as you comment in your advice I found that on a meditation retreat it was not as comfortable as I initially thought.
I’m afraid I don’t know of any current suppliers.
Ok, Great site and resource it is much appreciated.
there’s an adjustable bench here:
I have only been able to sit comfortably on a chair. I would like to ‘sit’ more openly, but my knees almost touch my ears when I try a mediatation cushion. Needless to say … it does not work, nor is it comfortable.
I have stacked cushions to gain height .. but my hips are not flexible .. pain is more local at front/groin of hip/leg. A ligament? Left side more notably.
I can’t say anything about the pain you’re experiencing, or what its cause might be, i’m afraid. Have you tried kneeling, using a meditation bench?
Thanks for the information here, it’s really helpful to me as I’m just starting to think about changing from a chair to a stool, having used a chair for many years. I’m going to make myself a stool, so thanks also for the dimensions on your plan. Are you able to give me some idea of the profile of the rounded legs?
Sorry for the delay. In one of the seats we sell, the leg is five inches in width, and the curve bulges out extends one inch. In other words, is the letter D is the curve at the bottom of the leg, the upright of the D is the 5″ width of the leg, and the furthest part of the curve is one inch from the upright. I hope that helps!