What is that mysterious necklace that everyone seems to be wearing in yoga? The answer is Mala beads; a magical strand of purposefully strung beads. Mala beads originated in India 3,000 years ago and have connections to Hinduism, Buddhism and yoga philosophy. Mala is the Sanskrit work for “meditation garland”. In short, mala beads are an aid to dive deeper into meditation. The stand traditionally consists of 108 beads made from rudraksha seeds, sandalwood or rosewood. The 109th bead is usually is a healing crystal that symbolizes the connection to the divine, this is where the meditation will begin and end.
Mala beads are associated with a mantra or intention that is set by the owner. Beginning in a comfortable seated position, the eyes can come to a soft gaze or closed and the breath is observed. Mala beads are traditionally placed in the right hand. The bead is held in between the thumb and middle finger while the index finger is straightened. Recite your intention or mantra aloud or in your head then using your thumb gently push the mala bead back along the strand to begin another round on the next bead. With a traditional mala beads this intention will be recited 108 times. This tangible meditation allows for the person to have a focused experience, which will cultivate a deeper meditation.
When choosing mala beads go with your intuition. If a certain strand appeals to you and attracts your attention, it will most likely be the right mala for you at the time. Carry your mala beads with you around your neck, as a bracelet, displayed in your home or car, or bring your mala beads to the mat as a reminder that your breath and intention are always available to you.
Whether meditation is in your vocabulary or not the pure act of sitting, breathing and deliberately thinking of your intention is profound for mind, body and soul growth.