Meditation Chairs -- The Best Types of Chair, Bench or Seat For Your Practice (and Back! and Knee!)
Which is the best chair for you?
There many types of meditation chairs, and choosing well can help you have a stable physical foundation for your meditation practice, especially if you are injured, whether temporarily or permanently, or have some sort of discomfort in sitting in one of the more traditional positions on a cushion (such as the lotus or half-lotus position).
A chair can also be helpful to you if you are a beginner to meditation, want to get started, but feel a bit intimidated because the traditional positions look so uncomfortable! (It can also help if you pushed yourself too far trying to contort yourself into the lotus or half-lotus). I know several people who have practiced many, many years and have always used a chair to meditate--it is a perfectly fine.
Below, I go over five different types of meditation chairs. Each is designed for different needs.
(1) Meditation benches -- kneeling bench or stool
A bench if perfect for you if you cannot cross your legs (for the lotus, half-lotus or burmese positions, for instance), or if you have a lot of knee pain but otherwise like sitting in the the "seiza" position (the "samurai" style of sitting in which you sit with your knees together and forward, and your legs and feet folded underneath you).
A meditation bench is simple: two vertical pieces of wood (the legs) attached to a horizontal but sloping piece of wood (the seat). You slip your feet under the horizontal part and sit upright. Here is an example of a bench (sorry for the affiliate link but I can't find a good photo):
is a range of products, and I find that prices seem to start at about
$40 (let me know if you find a cheaper one) and can go up to at least
$150 for fancier versions. There are different versions--some allow the
vertical pieces/legs to fold for travel, some are cushioned, and some
are made with nicer woods.
I can say from personal experience that I have found even the cushion-less version of the bench very, very comfortable. If you are handy with wood, and on a tight budget, you might try to build your own meditation bench or stool.
(2) Chairs with lumbar support
If you have back problems instead of, or addition to, leg problems when you meditate, then you might need a chair with lumbar support. There are a number of newer chairs that look like real chairs without legs and provide lumbar support.
One type, with a brand name "Wandering Monk Meditation Chair," looks like a wooden chair without legs and a low back.
Another brand, pictured below, is the "Backjack," a type of chair that was not, I think, intended for meditation use but still is quite useful in providing lower back support while still providing you an experience similar to sitting on a cushion.
Prices for these kinds of chairs with lumbar support can range from the just over $30 to $60 and more.
(3) Salubrion Seat
There is one kind of chair (as opposed to cushion) that you might think about getting if you have no knee or other leg problems, but can more or less sit in one of the traditional positions.
type of solid chair I have seen replicates the experience of sitting on a cushion
without the cushion--this is the Salubrion Seat. (Personally, I need the cushion because I am a guy
with almost no butt. My apologies for leaving you to meditate thinking
of a man with no butt.). The Salubrion L-100 is basically a round disk that is slightly curved at the back to follow the shape of your shapely tuchus. It, like the meditation bench, is tilted forward and has very small legs to keep it off the ground.
Even if you're comfortable in the lotus position, you should not sit directly on the floor. In fact, you cannot sit long periods of time without something slightly propping up your butt/your sit bones. As a result, the Salubrion Seat can be helpful. Here is a picture below:
(4) Luxury chairs: the Gaiam Ratan and Seagrass
There are a couple of seats that seem to be top of the line and quite luxurious: The Seagrass Yoga Meditation Chair and the Gaiam Ratan Meditation Chair. The Gaiam Ratan is shown below (the Seagrass looks a little more squared-off but otherwise is quite similar in size and function).
These seats are a replacement for, and joint together, two pieces of meditation equipment: the mat and the cushion, and they provide lumbar support. Both are full sized chairs with legs, full backs, and cushions, and enough space for your behind and your legs, however you position the.
Now, I am not sure that you absolutely need one of these chairs. If you are just starting out meditation, I would recommend that you go with a cheaper option.
But to me (I haven't asked my wife...) these look pretty nice, and would look great in a den or meditation room, if you have one. They are permanent fixtures, of course, not easily put away, so make sure you have the space for them. You can also lounge in them a bit, read a book or relax in one of these chairs while in the lotus or half-lotus positions.
5) Cheap meditation chair: an ordinary chair you already have!
There is absolutely nothing wrong with using a normal chair to meditate if you are injured, can't sit on the floor, or have another need to use a regular chair (I often meditate in my seat on long airplane flights). I know several people who have been meditating for years sitting in an ordinary metal folding chair.
(I meditated on a simple folding chair at the meditation center I used to sit at, for several months after injuring my knee because (a) I was pushing too hard to sit in the lotus position and (b) I played soccer in the park for two ours with shoes that did not support my flat feet at all.)
There are some tips to sitting properly in a normal chair--sit up straight (of course), with your calves perpendicular to the ground and your feet flat on the floor and straight in front of you. Other than this, do what you would otherwise ordinarily do.
Anyway, the physical act of sitting is an important part of meditation, but still only a part. Don't worry too much about finding the perfect chair--find one that is good enough to suit your needs and, once you get the correct posture down, go out there an meditate!