Posted on by Mia Mala Team

What is a Mala?

A Mala is a beaded bracelet or necklace used as part of a 'sadhana' or practice (known in Sanskrit as ‘japa’), to keep count while repeating a mantra or intention. This can be recited out loud, practiced mentally, or chanted.

It is a beautiful meditation tool commonly used as part of a daily yoga practice to keep the mind clear and focused while counting the mantras in sets of 108 repetitions.

How many beads are in a Mala?

Our traditional Malas are handmade by local artisans in Bali, and commonly come as a string of 108 beads, however they can also be made with 18, 27, or 54 beads.

On a traditional Mala, an additional bead is added at the head, commonly referred to as a ‘guru bead’ (traditionally named a ‘sumeru’). The purpose of this is to act as a stabilising force for which the other beads turn around, just like the planets turn around the sun.

Note that while Malas are made typically of 108 beads, the guru bead is included as the 109th along, commonly larger than the other beads and enhanced by a tassel.

Please note: If you intend to use your Mala for traditional practice, our traditional 108 collection sit in the 108 Section of our website.

Why 108?

The number 108 is a sacred and spiritual number, thought to be the ideal 3-digit number. Also the digits add up to 9, divisible by 3, making it another great number of threes. But it is also said to have deeper meaning than that.

  • 12 zodiac signs x 9 planets =108
  • 27 constellations x 4 parts = 108
  • 108 is said to represent the following formula in Buddhism: 6 x 3 x 2 x 3 = 108
    • 6 senses of a human being (smell; touch; sound; sight; taste; thought)
    • 3 times (past; present; future)
    • 2 conditions of the heart, mind or intention (pure / impure)
    • 3 emotional states (kleshas - like; dislike; indifference)

It is also said that there are 108 energy lines converging to form the heart chakra.

What types of beads are in a Mala?

There are many different types of beads and gemstones used in Malas, each to represent their own unique purpose.

Many of our traditional Malas contain Rudraksha seeds, which are commonly used as prayer beads in Hinduism. This seed comes from several species of large evergreen broad-leaved trees, with the Elaeocarpus ganitrus being the primary species. It is said to give increased energy and stamina, calm your nervous system and help free your mind of negative thought.

Other traditional gemstones include Turquoise Magnesite, Lava Stone, and White Magnesite, with many more to come!

How is a Mala used?

In yoga practice, Malas are commonly used in Mantra Yoga, the purpose being to help awaken the self by deepening the meditative aspects of it, engaging the mind through an intent focus on sound, repetitions and duration.

The word Mantra (coming from Sanskrit) has two parts - man (meaning 'mind') and tra (the root of the word 'instrument'). A Mantra is believed to have psychological and spiritual powers and increase mindfulness and inner peace.

To use a Mala, it is commonly held in the right hand and draped between the index and middle fingers. Beginning at the Guru bead, the user moves the thumb to recite the mantra 108 times, traveling around the Mala until they once again reach the Guru bead.

Shop our 108 Collection here. x