In recent years, mala beads have shown up in many forms of
contemporary popular culture. Mala beads have appeared in films such
Enlightened. Moreover, mala beads have emerged as a popular yoga
accessory, and are worn now by many yogis and yoginis as a fashion
statement of a relaxed lifestyle. Despite this surge in attention to
mala beads in American culture, mala beads are not new nor are they
just a fashion statement. Mala beads have been an important spiritual
accessory since at least the 10th century. Traditionally, mala beads
are used in both Hindu and Buddhist religious practice for counting
mantras or affirmations. Early artistic depictions of deities, monks,
and sages from the East, show mala beads being worn and used during
Mala beads are a strand of 108, 54, 27, or 21 beads traditionally used
for keeping count of mantras or affirmation. Traditional mala beads
are made from natural materials such as rudraksha seeds, tulsi seeds,
Bodhi seeds, rosewood and yak bone. Mala beads can also be made from
gemstones, and historically gemstone mala beads were reserved for
monks in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.
Uses of Mala Beads
There are many uses for mala beads.
While some practitioners restrict counting each in and out breath
during a meditation sit, others choose
to wear their mala while practicing yoga. Some people like to coil
their mala at the top of their yoga mat or in their lap while in
seated meditation, and many believe that the mala beads absorb the
energy of their practice. Other people choose to wear their mala as a
mental reminder or their affirmations or spiritual and emotional goals
of their practice. For example, some people will wear a mala bracelet
to remind them to stay present and keep breathing throughout the day.
Some people like to place their mala in a shrine or in a sacred place
in their home. Finally, some people wear a mala bracelet as the
quintessential fashion accessory of the a casual chic and boho fashion
style, and feel that their mala beads are both a statement of
lifestyle as well as a spiritual piece of jewelry.
Benefits of Gemstone Mala Beads
Any type of material can be used for a mala however gemstone mala
beads have the added benefit of holding the metaphysical properties of
the gemstones that they are made from. If you like to use healing
crystals, a gemstone mala is an excellent accessory to add to your
spiritual practice, especially if you meditate or practice yoga. For
example, if you are working on improving your strength and stamina, a
black onyx mala can help focus your attention and mind in this
direction. Black onyx is believed to improve strength, discipline,
stamina, and aid in the regulation of weight gain. If you are working
on increasing your balance, physically, mentally, or emotionally, a
mala made from tiger eye mala beads can help as this gemstone is
believed to improve overall balance. If on the other hand you are
working on chakra clearing and balancing, a mala made from white
tourmaline quartz would be excellent, as this gemstone is believed to
aid in aligning the chakras and centering the auric field.
Choosing a Mala
If you are interested purchasing a mala there are a range of materials
and qualities to choose from. If you want your mala to last a long
time, and you are purchasing a gemstone mala, be sure to purchase
stones that are at least AB grade. The quality of the gemstones will
impact the durability of the piece. It is also important that you
choose a mala strung on premium wire, quality braided thread, or
durable stretch cord. Some malas are strung on low grade cord which
can reduce their durability. Finally, when purchasing a mala check
that the seller has a product guarantee. You may also want to consider
working with a mala maker to select the perfect gemstones and symbolic
guru for a mala designed especially for your practice.
If you have any questions about purchasing a mala please contact the author.
Jacqueline Medalye is the designer and owner of Salt Spring Malas and
Yoga Jewelry. She has been practicing yoga for 10 years and she has
been making beaded jewelry since 1993. After traveling throughout
India she began making malas. She specializes in gemstone mala beads
and custom malas. Jacqueline feels that Salt Spring Malas is her path
of right livelihood given her passion for yoga, beads and jewelry
You can contact Jacqueline through her
A big thanks to Jacqueline Medalye for her very informative article.
We appreciate her contribution to our blog very much and hope we
will be hearing more from her in the future!