What are mala beads?

A mala necklace is a sequence of beads used in Hinduism and Buddhism for the spiritual practice known as Japa, or Japa Meditation. The Sanskrit word Japa means “to utter in a low voice, repeat internally” and it’s the meditative repetition of a mantra. These magical beads have been used for centuries as a tool for meditation.

Each bead on the mala helps you keep count of your mantra or to simply count your breath while meditating. They provide something tactile to come back to when your mind starts to wander. Rolling the beads through your fingers is a physical way to direct your energy and attention. It is a gentle reminder to reground and refocus every few seconds.


The significance of beaded jewelry has been a part of humanity since the beginning of our time here on the Earth. Beads have been used throughout our history as talismans for protection, amulets for luck, status symbols for wealth and authority, spiritual and religious tools, and as a form of barter. 

It was around the 8th century BCE when the ancient seers of India began to use beads to assist with their meditations and prayer. The beads would come to be known as “mala beads” or “prayer beads”. 

As time went on, many other religions started using prayer beads within their religious practices and mala prayer beads became common in China, Korea, Tibet, Japan and Greek. Eventually, prayer beads extended into Europe during the late Middle Age in the form of Catholic rosaries. Needless to say, there’s a long history of beads being used to connect with the world on a spiritual level.  

Mala beads have been used by yogis and spiritual seekers for thousands of years to help keep their minds focused during a special style of meditation called Japa, which means, “to recite”.

In recent years, it has become more common for non-religious individuals to wear and use mala beads. Some different uses of mala beads are:

  • to count or chant a mantra
  • provide grounding while meditating
  • gemstone energy for balancing the chakras
  • manifesting intentions and goals
  • setting positive affirmation
  • Worry beads for anxiety
  • Yoga practice 


A traditional Japa mala is made of 108 beads, a Guru bead and a tassel. A true sign of a traditionally crafted mala, is overhand knotting not only makes the mala stronger, it also provides the perfect space for your finger to move easily over each bead during the  Japa Meditation – a meditation that uses each bead to count a repetition of a mantra. Knots also protect the stone from rubbing against each other. 

108 beads

The 108 beads used can be crystals, gemstones, pearls, rudraksha seeds, sandalwood, rosewood, etc. During meditation, each bead helps you focus on your mantra, affirmation, or prayer.  

Guru bead

The middle bead by the tassel is the guru bead, normally with a different colour and size. This is the start and end of your mala. The Guru Bead is the 109th bead on a mala necklace and is not counted during meditation, it is unique from the rest of the mala.  

The tassel

Mala Beads are commonly finished with a tassel, often made of silk or cotton and it has a  functional and spiritual meaning. The tassel can also serve a secondary purpose of diffusing your favorite essential oils to add an additional element of de-stressing.  All our tassels are made of 100% cotton.

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