Thursday, 17 September 2015

A scrappy idea - a Zafu meditation pillow!

Hello again!

I don't know about you, but I have certainly come to a point in my life where I am slowly but steadily beginning to feel the age and its effect on my body. I have noticed that it takes a bit of effort to stay in shape, and most importantly if I don't make the effort, I suffer for it. I am not talking weight here, I am talking bodily well-being, and being able to perform daily tasks without straining myself or getting injured.

As your body ages, it changes. And after a certain age, you start to loose muscular strength and bone density. This is probably why your strong, perky twenty-something body demanded way less healthy attention, and withstood late nights, endless dancing and lack of sleep, without so much as a whinge.

Enter the 40ish, creaky, stiff and hobbling-lame-in-the-morning-body... (twenty-something; stop laughing!!) For me, my bodily well-being is important. I like being active, and able to be active. I have a physically demanding job, and so I am dependent upon my health to earn my living. I also think of my life after retirement. I want to be strong and healthy even then, so I can enjoy my senior years, too. I did run for a year, loved it, but managed to seriously injure my ankle, and so running is off the table for a good while.

So, I started doing yoga.

Hoping this is me in a few years :)

Those of you who are on "the path", will give a consenting nod when I say that yoga looks deceivingly easy and pleasant. My first few practices were rather humbling. I am not at all as mobile and strong as I thought. But that's ok, it's a journey and I will get better.
If you are wondering where the pillow comes in, I'll tell you. I discovered that just sitting tall on the floor, legs extended in front, keeping the natural hollow in my lower back was impossible. Also, sitting crossed legged, with a straight back, also not happening. Solution is to sit up on something to elevate the hips. I got tired with the uncomfortable folded towel, and decided I needed something a bit more fancy. Enter the Zafu.

A Zafu is a traditional round pillow used by Zen buddhists during prolonged seated meditation. It is usually about 35cm (14") in diameter and 20cm (8")high, and stuffed with natural fibres like kapok, or buckwheat hulls.

A little search online, and it was quite clear that natural fibres are rather expensive and hard to come by. But then I remembered this brilliant tip from Debbie, using fabric scraps for stuffing, and decided combine the need for elevated seating, and somewhere to put all those scraps! I am sure, as someone who sew, you are never short on scraps... I used a whole shopping bag just for this one pillow!

The pattern for this is fairly easy to make yourself, but I found mine here. I just used the instructions for measurements, but I made the pleats just how I saw fit. I found that if you overlap the ends by about 5-6", there is no need to sew it shut. This is practical if you need to put more stuffing in, or take some out if you need to use the scraps. I just made sure the pleats were evenly spaced and the overlapping edge was taken into account, to make it invisible. My pillow ended up with eleven pleats, plus the edge of the panel forming the twelfth.

I used upholstery fabric, but any sturdy fabric will do. Just make sure it can be eased, as I found I needed to, when sewing on the top and bottom circles. When assembled, just add stuffing until firm. Using smaller scraps is best, as it is less likely to get lumpy.

I also added a handle strap for carrying. I used a decorative stitch on my machine to make it prettier. If you take meditation classes, I guess you could embroider your name on the handle too. If you don't even meditate, or do yoga, the pillow looks great sitting on the couch, too. I've even used it to rest my laptop on when sitting in a recliner.

I am very happy with my Zafu. Using fabric scraps for stuffing, makes for quite a heavy pillow, but I don't mind. It is a bit like a medicine ball :) I just "beat it up" once in a while to keep it fluffy(ish).

Ohm, and peace to all :)


  1. I love yoga, my body doesn't like it some days. It can be so relaxing, yet so challenging! This pillow is great! I find it hard to sit flat on the floor too. I must make one!!!

    1. I love yoga, too. My only regret is not starting earlier:) I do practice every day, and the change in my body is incredible. And yes, it can be VERY challenging :D even the supposedly easy stuff.....

  2. I love this Siri. I have been away on a retreat this week, doing yoga twice a day, hiking, writing and knitting. This is something that I would really enjoy having.

    1. Oh, it sounds like one awesome week :) I wish I can go on a retreat sometime, I've seen some pretty great ones advertised!

  3. Very handy. I began trying to increasing my walking daily since I it is hard for me to find work out times. Yoga is a lovely way to destress.

    1. Walking is great, if you integrate it in your daily routine just by making a few tweaks. I have done yoga every day for 12 weeks, and I am surprised how easy it has been to make time for it. Always looking forward to the practice helps, I think :)

  4. Takk for tipset!. Jeg planla å lage en sånn for noen år siden, men visste ikke hva jeg skulle fylle den med. Og stoffrester har jeg jo nok av ;-) Jeg begynte på medisinsk yoga for noen år siden, og det gjorde underverker for den stive korsryggen min. Fortsatte hjemme i flere år etterpå, men så glapp det under en litt for lang ferie. Nå har jeg begynt på kurs igjen, og satser på at jeg skal komme inn i rutinen med en daglig praksis igjen.

    1. Hei! Så koselig å se deg igjen:)
      Ja, yoga hjelper på det meste, virker det som. Jeg jobber skift, så får ikke gått på kurs, men jeg fant ut at det gikk an å gjøre online yoga. Man betaler en sum, årlig eller månedlig, og så kan man velge og vrake i (1500+) forskjellige timer med professjonelle instruktører. Det ble redningen for meg :) Sikkert lurt å ta noen timer live også, slik at man lærer å gjøre positurene riktig. Kroppen min takker meg hver dag, og jeg den!