What are Mala Beads and why do Yogis Wear Them?

What is a mala? Mala beads are commonly known as Japa mala beads. Japa is an original Sanskrit word (Sanskrit is an ancient language of India) for the prayer beads used back then for the counting of mantra recitations.

Mala Beads, Yoga, Yogis, Fitness,
What are Mala Beads and why do Yogis Wear Them?


The traditional mala beads are made up of 108 beads (the significance of 108 varies between the different disciplines) which are made with a combination of precious or semi-precious stones, woods, seeds, or bone. Used the same way as they were in the past, mala beads are used to count the number of times a mantra is recited, the number of breaths taken while meditating, counting prostrations, or the repetitions of a Buddha’s name.


Mala Beads, Yoga, Yogis, Fitness,
Mala beads
  
As malas are a spiritual object, you can have mala beads blessed by your guru. As mala beads are consistently used for mantra recitations, and you bring them to teachings, mala beads will grow in spiritual significance as you use them. So the more you meditate using mala beads, the more energy the mala beads absorb with the spiritual energy reflecting back onto you. 

Although mala beads are not considered as sacred as a statue or a piece of Buddhist scripture, mala beads are still regarded as spiritual, so they are to be treated with respect. Out of respect for mala beads, you would not allow them to be lying on the floor, allow any objects to be placed on top of them or ever be thrown them away.

For thousands of years, mala beads have been worn by yogis and other spiritual seekers to help keep their minds focused during their practice of meditation. Although they are not worn as a typical accessory necklace for decoration, Tibetans wrap mala beads around their wrists or hang them around their necks as a way to show that they are spiritual beings while they are not meditating.

While meditating with their mala beads, yogis will hold their mala beads in their right hand, draped between their middle and index fingers. Starting at the guru bead (usually the largest bead), they use their thumb to count each smaller bead, pulling them towards them as the yogi recites their mantra. The yogi will do this 108 times until they have gone around their mala beads and are back at the guru bead starting point.

When yogis are not using their mala beads because they are sleeping, cleaning, and doing any other activity that the mala beads are not needed or can be in danger of being broken, they can hang them on a clean, high place. Another option is to hang the mala beads near an altar

For the rest of those who are practicing yoga, they can do whatever they wish when it comes to how they store their mala beads. It is ultimately a decision that is expressly based on the individual’s point of view. As an individual, you can decide to still treat the mala beads with care and respect while maintaining a non-extreme attitude regarding them.

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