Japa and Mala FAQ

This is the frequently asked questions about mala beads and mantra meditation. If you have a specific question about our mala beads or our company, please visit our company FAQ page.

Mala Bead Questions

What is a mala?
A mala is a simple string of prayer beads used in japa meditation to count mantras, prayers, or intentions. A full mala contains 108 counting beads, a half mala has 54 beads, and a wrist mala usually has 27 beads.

What are prayer beads?
Prayer beads are used in many different cultures and religions and are known by different names, such as mala beads, rosary beads, and worry beads. Over two-thirds of the world’s population use prayer beads as a tool to increase the focus, devotion, and meditation of their spiritual practices.

What does Mala mean?
Mala is a Sanskrit word that can be translated as “garland.” A mala is a necklace or bracelet of prayer beads commonly used by Yogis and Buddhists to practice japa meditation with.

What is the purpose of mala prayer beads?
In many spiritual traditions, malas and prayer beads are used to count prayers, breaths, or mantras. Touching the bead with each recitation also helps focus the mind. Multiple reputations of the mantra or prayer can be used with a mala.

What types of materials are used in Malas?
Mala beads are traditionally made from Rudraksha, sandalwood, rosewood, and tulsi. Many other materials can be used, including gemstone beads.

What is a guru or meru bead?
Traditionally made malas have a bead at the end of the necklace that is called the Guru (teacher) bead. This bead is not to be counted or touched and serves as a reminder to pause and reflect before continuing to another round of japa. The guru bead is also said to store the energy of your japa practice and can serve as a reminder of your intention for practicing meditation. The Guru bead is also known as meru (mountain), sumeru (very exalted), stupa (summit) or bindu (dot).

Do mala beads have to be round?
The beads used in a mala can be of any shape but round beads are usually preferred as they are easier to use with counting mantras.

Why do malas have 108 beads?
The number 108 has a powerful significance in India where malas originate from. There are 108 letters in the Sanskrit alphabet. Vedic mathematicians measured the Sun’s diameter to be 108 times larger than the diameter of the Earth, measured the distance between the Sun and Earth to be 108 times the Sun’s diameter. In the yogic tradition, we find 108 sacred texts of the Upanishads, 108 sacred holy sites in India, and 108 marma (acupressure-like) points on the body.

Can you wear mala beads?
Mala beads can be worn around the neck or wrist. Traditionally a mala would not be shown to the public so it is best to wear your mala inside of your clothing or carry it in your pocket or mala bag.

What religions use mala beads?
The main religions that use prayer beads are Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism and the Bahá’í Faith. The main religions that use mala beads are Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism.

Where did mala beads originate?
The use of beads in prayer appears to have originated around the 8th century B.C.E. in India.

Wrist Mala Bead Questions

What is a mala bracelet?
A hand or wrist mala is an elastic strand of prayer beads designed to be worn as a bracelet. Yogis and Buddhists use mala bracelets to count their mantras with as a form of meditation.

What wrist do you wear a mala bracelet on?
Traditionally mala bead bracelets should be worn on your right wrist, as this hand is considered more pure than the left.

How many beads are in a wrist mala?
Wrist malas are made with 18, 21 or 27 counting beads plus 1 guru bead. The most common number is 27 which is a division of 4 of the sacred number 108.

What are the benefits of a mala bracelet?

The seeds, woods, and gemstones used in a mala have specific energy properties that subtly affect the wearer’s life and health when worn. Wearing your mala around your wrist also serves as a reminder of the intention of your mantra meditation practice.

What is a yoga bracelet stack?
A mala stack is a set of 3 wrist malas that are of the same size and either match or have complementary colors. Wearing all 3 malas on your wrist creates a unique and fashionable stacked look.

Full Mala Bead Questions

What is a mala necklace?
Traditionally, a mala is a strand of 108 prayer beads made with a tassel that can be worn around your neck. Mala beads are used for counting mantras, breaths or prayers as a form of meditation.

How many beads are in a full mala?
A full or necklace mala has 108 counting beads plus 1 guru bead.

Can I wear mala beads as a necklace?
Yes, you can wear a 108 bead mala around your neck with the tassel placed above your heart or behind your neck.

How do you wear a full mala on your wrist?
Carefully wrap the mala as many times as you can (usually 3 to 4 times) to slide it around your wrist. We do not recommend wrapping full gemstone malas as the tension created can break the strand.

Using a Mala Questions

How do you use mala beads?
There are four main ways to use mala beads. 1. Japa meditation 2. Breathing meditation 3. Gratitude practice 4. Healing from wearing mala beads

How do I hold mala beads?
Hold your mala in your right hand and use your thumb to “count” each mantra. Do not use your index finger to touch the beads.

Can I use my left hand for japa using mala beads?
Traditionally the right hand is used because in India the left hand is considered impure. If you are left-handed it is fine to use your dominant hand to hold and use with your mala.

What if I miss a bead during japa?
If you miss a bead during japa, you can do an extra mantra for the current bead you are at or finish your mantra practice with a few extra chants to make up for any missed ones.

What if I touch the guru bead during japa?
If you accidentally touch the guru bead redouble your efforts to focus on your japa practice. You may need to occasionally glance at your mala to help pay more attention as you get close to the guru bead.

How do you wear mala beads?
There are three different ways to wear malas: 1. Wear a necklace mala around your neck. 2. Wrap a necklace mala around your wrist. 3. Wear a bracelet mala around your wrist.

Can you wear mala beads all the time?
No, it is traditionally recommended to not wear malas while sleeping, going to the toilet, or during intercourse.

How do you activate a mala?
To empower the mala and the mantra used, japa meditation should be practiced each day for 40 continuous days.

Can I wear my mala right away?
Yes, it is okay to wear your mala before it is empowered as our malas are cleansed and blessed before we ship them to you.