If you’ve ever been to a yoga class or casually perused (read: stalked the heck out of) the hashtag #yogaeverydamnday on Instagram (no? just me?), you’ve probably noticed that almost every yogi has a colorful stack of various beaded bracelets on his or her wrist. Sure, they’re cute and fashionable, but what’s the real significance behind these Mala beads?
Fun fact: Some yoga teachers wear Malas during class simply because they jingle and jangle. This serves as an audible warning signal for students, so you can hear your teacher coming before he or she assists you in a pose. No one likes being crept up on in the middle of compromising poses such as deaf man’s pose. No one. How functional!
While this is a great, simple, modern use for Mala beads, their history and spiritual significance is much deeper. After plenty of research (muchas gracias to the sites listed below), I give you, ladies and gentlemen, a crash course in Mala beads for dummies.
- Malas were originally used in Buddhist and Hindu tradition for meditation and prayer. This dates back hundreds, or possibly thousands of years. Dates are inconsistent.
- Traditional Mala necklaces have 108 beads, which are individually touched and counted while meditating or repeating a prayer or mantra. The number 108 is believed to ensure that the yogi repeats the mantra at least 100 times, assuming that about 8 will be missed during the series.
- Malas can be made of fewer than 108 beads and used multiple times in meditation to equal 108. A bracelet of 27 beads, for example, can be cycled through 4 times for a total of 108 repetitions.
- Mala beads can be made of wood, bone, or gemstone. Stones are believed to hold a specific spiritual and/or physical healing element and impact the lives of those who wear them. Turquoise, for example, is said to rid the body of toxins and increase circulation. It is also believed to rid the soul of hatred and bring love.
To read more about the history and importance of Mala beads, hop on over these lovely, oh-so-informative sites: Mala Collective, Share Yoga, Buddhist Mala. If your heart is telling you Yes! I need some!, and you like pretty, handmade things and love supporting yours truly, head over to my Etsy shop! 🙂 Namaste.