What are Mala Beads?
A mala is a garland of 108 beads used to count the recitation of mantras. Mala is Sanskrit for garland. Malas are used in Eastern spiritual practices, but more than 2/3’s of the world population uses prayer beads in their spiritual practice including Christians (Catholic rosary), Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism. They are used as a meditation tool to count the number of mantras while chanting or reciting.
Made of many different types of beads including gems, wood, seeds, bone, and crystal; there are different properties or qualities to the type of bead, and the choosing of a mala can be a very personal experience or sometimes gifted from your Guru or teacher. Some mala users prefer to make their own, reciting a mantra as they make it to imbue the mala with those qualities of the mantra.
Yoga practitioners use malas in their mantra practice. A mantra is repeated to help create focus and to allow deeper levels of awareness and relaxation. As you move along the beads, it has the effect of ‘waking you up’ to the moment and to the mantra rather than it becoming mechanical. When not used in mantra, wearing the mala can help the wearer be mindful and have a sense of peace throughout the day.
I have a few malas, and I may vary which one I use on the energy I may need that day. However, my most used mala is a very basic simple mala presented to me by my teacher Mugs at Yoga Teacher Training.