What are Mala Beads: A Tutorial

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Mala Beads: A Tutorial

My thumb, glides over the smooth round façade of the African Jade. Known for its power to soothe and provide mind/body/spirit balance, the rounded beads of African Jade, a blend of milky turquoise and green, shimmer Neptune-like against my thumb. The delicate clink of the rattling beads gives rhythm to my mantra- Lokah Samastah Sukino Bhavantu as I make a complete rotation around my mala bracelet.


After three rotations, and having reached 108, I’ve finished. I sit in stillness and feel the grounding weight of my mala beads in the palm of my hands. 

 I focus on my breath and embrace the stillness. Slipping my mala bracelet onto my wrist, I climb out of bed, ready to begin my day with intention. 

 Sometimes it’s the small acts that lead to the greatest change. This is definitely true when it comes to reciting mantras.

What is a mantra?

A mantra is a sound or word or statement that is repeated in order to bring about focus and induce a meditative state.

In the yogic tradition, one chooses a mantra that resonates with them, then recites it 108 times over the course of 40 days.

This meditative repetition, 108 times, for 40 days allows the mantra to become imprinted into your subconscious. After 40 days, a new way of thinking evolves and the wisdom of the mantra becomes habit.

What are mala beads?

Mala beads are used to keep track of these recitations. Mala beads come in many forms- necklaces, bracelets, precious and semi-precious gemstones, to sacred wood, and even synthetic materials. 

If you’re into crystals and gems, you can choose a mala bead made of certain stones that carry a similar energy  and or complementary energy to your mantra. 

You can also pick mala beads based on color and chakra relationship or simply on how they make you feel. 

Using mala beads is easy and they give shape to the practice of meditation, mindfulness and intention. 

Hold your mala beads in your right hand. You’ll begin at the guru bead (the largest bead which is not counted, merely a place holder) and with your thumb slide over a new bead and recite your mantra of choice. Pull the mala towards you as you go, eventually making your way back towards the guru bead. 

If you’re using a mala necklace, you’ll have 108 beads and you need only make one full rotation. If you’re using mala bracelets, you’ll have 27 beads and will need to make three full rotations to complete your cycle of 108. 


Where did I get my beads?

I’d like to thank Japa Mala Beads for the stunning mala bracelets.

Japa Mala Beads are made of pure gemstones and high quality wood. Each mala is purified, blessed and energized before making its way to you. I highly recommend Japa Mala Beads!

Thinking about starting a mantra routine with a set of mala beads?

Japa Mala has put together this useful introductory mantra list!


What mantra am I working with right now?

My mantra of the moment is- Lokah Samastah Sukino Bhavantu (May all beings everywhere live in happiness and peace and may my thoughts and actions lead to their happiness and peace as well as my own.)

This is one of my favorite sanskrit mantras. I revisit it often and reference it constantly when I’m teaching my yoga classes.

Do you have a mala bead meditation practice? What are your favorite mantras?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.