Yoga mala beads are hanging everywhere – or at least I see them hanging everywhere.
Whether it’s around a yoga teachers neck, displayed in a yoga studio, hanging as a decoration, or on my social media feed, these beautiful babies have become a mainstream “thing”.
And once anything becomes the it thing, we all want to have one.
Aside from a yoga mala looking beautiful and acting as an accessory, they have a much deeper meaning that stems from symbolic and spiritual practices. So while it’s great to flaunt a mala, it’s even better to know the meaning behind this piece of tradition & how to use them!
Malas + Mantras – What’s the Deal?
A yoga mala is a strand of sacred beads strung onto a thread to form a necklace. This necklace is then used in prayer to keep focused on the repetition of a mantra.
Your next thought is probably – what is a mantra?
A mantra can be absolutely anything you want it to be.
If sticking to the theme of tradition, there are many Sanskrit mantras that can be applied to your personal life and then integrated into a meditation practice. Or it can be something you make up. Either way – the goal of a mantra is to help aid in concentration and the practice of meditation. Don’t be discouraged if a meditation practice is not in your daily regimen, it’s not in mine either (even though it needs to be).
A mantra’s purpose is to help break down barriers, to focus the mind to a single point, to repeat over and over words of encouragement, to uplift us, to shine light into places of darkness, and to help guide us through our journey. It’s a special tool that can be taken anywhere and used whenever.
Once I learned the back story of yoga malas – I said sign me up, where can I buy one!
Related: Mantra Meditation: 40 Day Challenge
Traditional yoga malas consist of 108 beads plus a head bead called a sumeru.
The number 108 has MANY symbolic meanings that are woven throughout the yoga practice, the ancient yogic texts, as well as Buddhism and Hinduism. If this mystical number is intriguing to you, read this article here to go more in-depth.
When referring to the number 108 and a yoga mala, the basic premise is that whatever mantra is chosen, it should be repeated 108 times. Now it might seem like repeating anything 108 times is just plain crazy but imagine this scenario:
You are feeling overwhelmed by life.
You are in need of encouragement, strength, and courage.
You repeat the mantra 108 times: I am a strong person who is capable of overcoming any obstacle.
You do this for an entire week every morning before starting your day.
What do you think the outcome will be from this?
Mantras + Malas
The two are a powerful force that when used in unison can help us be the best version of ourselves.
You can choose to commit to a week mantra meditation, a month-long practice, or just whip out your mala in times of need. It’s a personal tool to help YOU.
Plain and simple.
Below are a few examples to get started in the mala + mantra practice and how to use it. Please comment below with any mantras you love, questions, or simply drop some love or words of encouragement. As always friend, it’s your journey and I’m so incredibly honored to be a part of it.
How to Use:
- Hold the mala in your right hand and between the thumb and middle finger.
- Start at the head bead.
- Use your thumb to move the mala one bead at a time and repeat the mantra with each passing bead.
- 108 repetitions will bring you back to the beginning of the necklace – the head bead.
Sanskrit Mantra examples:
- Aum – This is one of the most popular forms of chanting and used to open and close yoga classes. The sound of aum is considered to be in harmony with the universe, vibrating at the same frequency of all living things.
- Om Namah Shivaya – I bow to Shiva, the supreme deity of transformation who represents the truest, highest self.
- Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu – May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute to the happiness and freedom for all.
- Shanti Mantra
Om Saha Naavavatu
Saha Nau Bhunaktu
Saha Veeryam Karavaavahai
Tejasvi Aavadheetamastu Maa Vidvishaavahai Om – May the Lord protect and bless us. May he nourish us, giving us strength to work together for the good of humanity. May our learning be brilliant and purposeful. May we never turn against one another.
- Om Gum Ganapatayei Namaha – I bow to Ganesh who is capable of removing all obstacles. I pray for blessings and protection.
My Personal Mantras:
- Life is unfolding exactly how the Universe intends it to. Be patient.
- I love my body. Thank you for being so strong. Thank you for holding my soul.
- Thank you for stepping onto your mat today, for moving your body, for riding your breath.
- I can achieve whatever I want with a consistent practice and positive mindset.
- Thank you for showing me the yoga community and the practice. I am forever grateful for the people who surround me within it.
- Thank you for my health and the health of those who surround me.
- I am enough. Period.