Mala beads were first used thousands of years ago. Although malas were originally used for spiritual purposes, people use them today for a wide variety of reasons. Many people continue to associate mala beads with prayer, but they are also prominent in meditation and yoga. We put together a guide explaining the use of mala beads; keep reading if you are interested in learning the significance of mala beads in yoga and meditation.
Mala Beads Explained
A japamala, more commonly known as mala, is a long loop of beads that can be worn around the neck or wrist. Mala beads play a role in prayer and meditation, which is prominent in Hindu and Buddhist traditions. Malas are made with nylon, silk, or hemp knotting cord, and they feature a knot between each bead and a tassel at the end that represents a connection to spirits. People often use these tassels to diffuse essential oils while meditating or doing yoga. According to some people, mala beads also help set intentions.
There are 108 mala beads in a mala, with a special 109th bead known as a guru bead or stupa that connects the ends of the mala to the tassel. Many people consider the number 108 to be sacred, and they believe it to have spiritual significance. The number 108 means something different to different people, depending on their beliefs or practices. It has significant meanings in Buddhism and Hinduism, as well as within the tradition of yoga.
Meditation and Yoga
The cultural significance of mala beads is evident based on their history in Buddhist and Hindu traditions. However, the use of mala beads is not exclusive to those traditions. Many people use mala beads in the practice of yoga or meditation, as it is a helpful tool for staying focused and mindful. During meditation, an individual will hold the mala in their hand. Since the mala is long, it can be wrapped around the wrist while meditating. People can also wear malas around the neck. Typically, malas are helpful to keep track of how many times someone has chanted a mantra.
Japa meditation is one practice in which mala beads are useful. Japa meditation is the act of reciting a mantra either aloud or mentally. Using a mala helps one focus on the mantra, but malas also help one stay on track by using the beads for counting after each verse. The person will recite the mantra repeatedly, and the mala prevents this from becoming a mindless task by adding a physical component to something that would otherwise be all vocal or in the mind. And by focusing on the mala beads, the individual meditating can keep their mind from wandering. Mantras can be traditional, such as Om, or they can be personal to the individual. There are many mantras and phrases you can chant while meditating, depending on what you seek. For example, there are mantras for peace and love.
If you practice yoga, you will likely encounter mala beads. Some people wear them while practicing. Some yoga poses even incorporate malas. Savasana is one yoga pose that is perfect for using a mala, and it occurs at the end of nearly every yoga practice. It is known as the corpse pose because you must lay on your back and stay as still as possible. Since this is a resting pose, it is easy to hold mala beads in hand. This pose and many others are great for using malas, as you typically hold each pose for only a few seconds or minutes.
How To Use Mala Beads
There are a few different ways to use or wear mala beads. For example, you can wear the beads around your neck just like a necklace. You can also wear the mala beads so that they hang down the back. This is particularly useful when practicing yoga, because wearing it like a necklace may become distracting or get in the way when performing certain poses. Wearing around the neck is the most popular way to wear a mala.
Another way to wear a mala is by wrapping it around the wrist. You can wrap it a few times, but this will depend on the mala’s length. Although this is a convenient way to wear a mala, it is not the recommended method. Wrapping the mala around the wrist repeatedly can put tension on the cord, which shortens the lifespan of the mala over time. Wearing it loose is the best way to ensure a long lifespan.
Recently, malas have also gained popularity as a fashion statement. Malas are beautiful, as they are typically made of colorful gemstone beads. People often wear mala beads outside of meditation and yoga, even though that is their primary use.
Choosing Beads for Your Mala
When choosing a mala, it is important to choose something that resonates with you personally. There are many different color options because malas are composed of different types of gemstones. You should choose gemstones that represent something you are seeking in your life or a chakra element in which you are focusing on. Gemstones and crystals symbolize various things to many people, so try to choose a stone that symbolizes something important to you. You could also select beads based on a color that brings you joy or makes you feel at peace. Any stone that makes you feel comfortable will be a good choice for your own mala.
There are many crystals and gemstones that you could use for a mala. It is important to consider the symbolism associated with the stone, as well as the chakra that it activates. For instance, rose quartz is a stone associated with unconditional love, and it activates the heart chakra. Tiger’s eye is often used for protection and grounding, and it activates the third eye chakra. Lapis lazuli is a stone with a very powerful vibration and it is perfect for a mala because it is said to aid an individual on their spiritual journey. It activates the throat, third eye, and crown chakra. There are many options depending on what you are trying to achieve.
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Tejas Beads has a wide selection of high-quality natural gemstone beads that are great for mala making. If you are looking to buy gemstone beads in bulk, we would be happy to assist you. Contact us today if you have any questions.