座 za – sit
布団 futon – cushion (or bed)
Literally: sit cushion. Zabuton is a small futon, used to sit more comfortably on the floor.
The traditional way of sitting called seiza (pronounced: SAY-ee-zah) which translates as “proper sit”) is practiced when you kneel with your legs folded underneath you with your bum resting on your heels. This way of sitting conveys respect and is a healthy way of sitting. Sitting seiza opens your knee and ankle joints, engages your core muscles. It also maintains proper spinal alignment. Because sitting seiza creates a shape that is longer than wide, the zabuton are rectangular, rather than square in shape.