What the @#%! is a Mala?
You have probably seen your yoga and meditation friends wearing tasseled necklaces and wondered what are mala beads? A mala is a simple string of beads used in japa meditation to count mantras. prayers, or intentions. Malas can also be used to count breaths or used in a gratitude meditation. Mala is a Sanskrit word meaning garland. Malas are a type of meditation beads or prayer beads and are ancient tools that were developed to keep the mind focused and clear from thoughts. A full mala contains 108 counting beads plus one guru or meru bead. Usually, a 108 bead mala is long enough to wear as a necklace. A mala can also be strung as a half mala containing 54 beads, or as a wrist mala with 27 counting beads to be worn as a bracelet. The guru (teacher) or meru (mountain) bead is often larger than the other counting mantra beads and it provides a starting and ending point for counting the repetitions of the mantra. A tassel is connected to the end of the guru/meru bead to finish the mala with a final knot. Mala beads are also referred to as mantra beads, meditation beads, Hindu rosaries or Buddhist prayer beads.