The origin of sitting props

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Most of us who practice yoga and meditation know that sitting on a prop, or some kind of support, can make all the difference between feeling good and being totally uncomfortable. Sitting props can be simple everyday items, like blankets, rolled towels or even a stack of books. But in actuality, sitting props have been around for centuries, originating in China where cloth meditation seats were initially filled with the downy fluff from cattails. The word ‘zafu’ may come from the word ‘seifu’ which simply means seat. Zabutons, which are the larger square cushions, were developed to provide additional comfort to the knees and ankles. Being comfortable meant that the practitioner could sit for longer periods which in tern allowed meditators to reach higher levels of contemplation and enlightened states.

Today we continue to use sitting props to raise the hips and provide stability in the body. Props help maintain the natural S curve in the spine which promotes good posture and a strong core. We at the Dharma Desk always encourage using a zafu/zabuton combination for working at our desks.  If you sit on the floor and aren’t using a sitting prop, try one today – those yogis from olden days definitely had the right idea!

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