Meditating with Malas

 In Blog

We get asked frequently in the yoga studio what a mala is and how it is used. While it has become trendy to wear a mala as a piece of jewelry, they do serve a purpose in a meditation practice.

Malas traditionally are a string of 108 beads or seeds with a large guru bead and have been used in Buddhist and Hindu traditions for centuries. Before we could use smartphones to time our meditations, or even a clock, malas were used to count the repetitions of mantras chanted.

If beginning a meditation practice at home, try using a mala! There is something very soothing about the beads being brought through the fingers after each recitation of a mantra or affirmation. RYK has two very traditional types of malas, handcrafted in Bali, to choose from in our Dharma Shoppe – Rudraksha and genuine Sandalwood.

  • Sandalwood is believed to enhance your meditation and increase the power of your wishes. Benefits of using a sandalwood mala could include increased clairvoyance, divination abilities, good luck, protection, and success.
  • Rudraksha seeds are sustainably harvested on trees in South East Asia. Also called the Eye of Shiva, Rudraksha are known to increase clarity and general awareness, calm the central nervous system, help quiet the mind, and free one of negative thoughts. In addition, they are known to be cooling when worn against the skin, and increase immunity, energy and stamina while providing rejuvenating qualities.

Here’s a simple how-to for using your mala:
1. Choose a spot and sit comfortably with your spine straight and your eyes closed. Take a few deep breaths to center and align yourself with your intention.
2. If you have one, use a mantra for this practice, chanting aloud or silently. The mantra could be something simple like “Sat Nam” or “I am love”.
3. Hold your mala in your right hand, draped between your middle and index fingers. Starting at the guru bead, use your thumb to count each smaller bead, pulling it toward you as you recite your mantra. Do this 108 times, traveling around the mala, until you once again reach the guru bead.
4. If you want to continue the meditation, instead of passing over the guru bead, simply reverse direction and begin again.

Rather than wearing your meditation mala, keep it wrapped and secure on your altar between practice times. You can always choose another mala, perhaps made of stones or crystals, to wear on a regular basis.

For more information on the use of malas or for help in choosing your own, ask any one of our knowledgeable staff members or teachers! Please check the Mala selection we carry at our store inside RYK Yoga and Meditation Center.