The meaning of mala

I had the chance to participate, with my daughter, to a mala making workshop animated by my yoga teacher.

Mala means “garland” in Sanskrit. It is a spiritual and healing necklace used to count mantra recitations during meditation.

Mantras are yoga tools to calm your mind anytime, anywhere. The most “famous” mantras are “Om” or “Shanti” but it is important that it represents an affirmation in your own words, your own way. Pick 1 or 2 words or even more (ex : I can do it!) and chant it in a way that works for you : loudly, softly or in your head. To get the most benefits you should chant it repeatedly 108 times.

This is where your mala can help since it is made of 108 beads. Each time you chant your mantra you move to the next bead, so you don’t have to bother with the counting and keep your mind focused on your mantra and clear from thoughts.

Why 108 beads?

The number 108 has endless significance across various philosophical, scientific and religious beliefs. Here are my favorites :

  • There are 54 letters in Sanskrit alphabet 54 letters, each with a masculine and feminine form = 108 in total
  • Our body has 108 energy channels, or Nadis, leading to the Crown Chakra and self-realization.
  • The distance from the Sun to Earth is 108 times the diameter of the Sun and the distance from the Earth to Moon is 108 times the diameter of the moon.

What is a mala made of?

Mala beads can be made of many materials (seeds, gems, crystal, wood, etc…) We made ours with dried Rudraksha seeds.

Literally the word Rudraksha means : The tear of Shiva” as it is said that the Rudraksha plant grew when one of Shiva’s tears fell onto the ground. Since they are seeds, they carry energy from nature.

We also used semi-precious gems that all have their own “power” or “virtuous energy” such as : amethyst (insomnia, nightmares, worries, etc..), blue Agatha (calm, clear communication, balance), blue jasper (confidence, acceptance), rhodonite (calm, protection), etc..

The mala is composed of these 108 beads + 1 guru bead (slightly bigger than the other beads) + 1 tassel.

How do I use my mala?

Hold your mala in your right hand, between your middle and index fingers. Always start at the guru bead and use your thumb to count each smaller bead. Pull the beads towards you after each repetition of your mantra. Travel around your mala, until you reach the guru bead.

Pause there to express deep gratitude.

My daughter made hers with amethyst as she has trouble sleeping. She is only 8 and doesn’t practice meditation yet but she puts it under her pillow every night, assured that it will protect her from nightmares 🙂