Posts Tagged ‘meditation cushions’

5 tips to refresh your commitment to yoga

Thursday, March 5th, 2015
Time to move on – not away from yoga
You have trained long and hard, practiced diligently and now you have doubts – about yourself, your teaching and commitment. What is happening?
The answer is: you are practicing yoga. Self-inquirytrends in yoga, reflection and doubting your intentions are the manifestation of a deeper relationship, that can withstand and flourish through inquiry and emotional turmoil.Compare your relationship with yoga with other meaningful relationships that endure through change and even conflict. If they are strong, they will develop and strengthen. Yes, flaws may be revealed and that relationship may change, but the underlying love will endure and prove richer in the long-term.

Where, when and how you discover yoga will determine the start of your journey. This may be a route that takes us into a practice, or even teacher training that requires commitment to a certain style that later in life, may not nourish and support your growth. An acceptance and even ultimately a rejection of a particular school of yoga is neither a reflection on the practice, but merely an acknowledgement that it is time to move on. The body and mind evolves during our journey through life. Yoga may keep us flexible, strong and active in the physical body, but our aims may change, as we recognize and nurture other areas of our practice.

Physical injury, health concerns and natural aging also determine the suitability of any practice and may mean changing or adapting your practice. One of the many comforts in yoga is that there is always something that you can do – either softening your practice until recovery allows you to return to your previous choice, or moving into different areas such as pranayama or meditation.How do you move forward?
• Firstly, it is important to accept and be open to change. Drawing back and observing your intentions may at first contribute to feelings of loss and even anger. To ‘let go’ of a rigid practice can also cause feelings of guilt as you release yourself of the commitment and possibly regular practice that has become part of the pattern of your daily life.

• Remember, you are only recognizing changes in yourself. Recall how well the practice suited you in the past – what you have learnt and how it has supported you. Let go of guilt and be thankful for the experience.• Have a break and encourage the body and mind to rest and find the space for observation, inquiry and introduction to other aspects or styles of yoga. This may even result in a refreshed interest and commitment in your previous practice.

• Talk to your teacher and other students. You will discover that these doubts and feelings are not unusual. Your teacher may suggest other classes or training that will support your growth. If this is ‘farewell’, a respectful parting will prevent any bad feelings.

• Observe other areas of your life and how they may be contributing to your confusion.  It can be tempting to use yoga as a crutch to support other areas of life that are out of control, or even to be disappointed in yoga no longer gives you the feelings of strength, stability and calm that it provided when you first started.

• Do not rush! Any decision should be taken slowly and calmly. Remember how long it took to develop your practice and how it has helped you develop.

It may be time to move on, but that does not mean moving out! And if you decide to take a break – yoga will be there waiting patiently to welcome you back – no questions asked.

By:  Wendy Jacob

Meditate on this: Zafu Cushions and Zabuton Mats

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009


For thousands of years, the zafu cushion has played an important role in Japanese and Chinese culture as a cushion used for seated meditation.  In Japanese, the word “zafu” is translated as “seat made of cattails”, which is how they were made for a very long time.

Today’s Zafu cushions are generally stuffed with buckwheat hulls or natural kapok fiber and covered with a silk canvas or natural cotton.  While this meditation cushion can look somewhat awkward, it is actually quite comfortable.  Sitting on a zafu promotes a straight spine during meditation, which encourages the proper circulation of the body’s spiritual energy, or life force. 

The zabuton, which is often paired with zafu cushions (shown here), is a kapok-filled rectangular cushion that is often placed beneath a zafu cushion, providing comfort and stability during seated meditation. The Kanji characters for “zabuton” are literally translated as “seat cloth sphere”, and are often found in Japanese homes.  Besides being used for meditation, they are also used for eating, reading, watching television, and many other daily activities. 

Zen practitioners use the zafu and zabuton as utilitarian accessories, but they are also symbols of zazen practice.  For example, before practitioners sit or rise from the zafu, they perform a “gassho” bow to the cushion, to the teacher, and to fellow practitioners.  While walking in the meditation hall, or zendo, there is a proper way of respectfully handling the zafu.

In Rakugo, a form of Japanese storytelling, performers cannot rise from the seiza position on their zabuton during their skit.  In Sumo wrestling, it is a tradition for audience members to throw their zabuton cushions into the ring after a particularly good match. 

High quality meditation cushions are an important investment for every serious student of meditation.  For long periods of meditation, yoga, sitting or simply relaxing, the zafu and zabuton offer unmatched comfort and stability.