Originally published in the Summer + Fall 2018 issue.
A mala is a sacred garland of 108 beads used in Buddhism and Hinduism for japa: meditation with mantra. Rudraksha and lotus seed malas have been used for thousands of years by yoga practitioners in India for counting mantras during meditation and increasing shakti, spiritual power.
Mala beads are a form of protection from negativity on the spiritual path and serve as a connection to positive and divine frequencies of energy.
Malas are a powerful, tangible reminder to come back to the present moment and align with a mantra, affirmation or intention.
In yoga, 108 is a sacred number that reflects the essence of all life. It is a symbol of spiritual completion, similar to the sound of “Om.” By reciting mantra in rounds of 108, we align ourselves with the natural rhythm and sacred geometry of creation.
When we create our own mala, we amplify the power of our yoga practice. Knot by knot, we imbue the mala with personal intention and healing energy. Making a mala takes practice and patience. However, once you’ve created your own mala, you will have a set of sacred beads bonded to your intention and your energy, which can then serve as a potent foundation for your practice.
- 108 6-8mm beads. Choose from semi-precious stone, rudraksha or wood.
- 2-3 arm lengths of 1mm waxed, hemp, or nylon cord
- 1 tassel
- 1 guru bead, large enough to fit two strands of 1mm cord through its opening
- Quick-dry glue
- Round-nose pliers
- Optional: 3 counter beads of a different shape or texture from your 108 bead
- Optional: beading needle
- Gather your materials and pause for a moment. Reflect on the qualities of energy you want to grow and nurture in your life. Choose a mantra, intention or affirmationto support that.
- String your cord through the “eye” of your tassel, and pull the cord until it is equal length on both sides. Knot the tassel in place. Use a needle to bring the cord through the tassel, if necessary.
- String both sides of the cord through the guru bead and secure with a knot.
- Add 27 of your beads and one counter bead to one side. Add 27 more, totaling 54 beads.
- To begin knotting, slide the first bead close to the knot above the guru bead. Create a “pretzel loop” with the string. Take your pliers and bring the nose through the pretzel loop, gripping the cord directly above the first bead. Tighten the knot around the pliers so it lands directly above the bead. Slide the pliers out and tighten the knot against the bead.
- Slide the second bead directly above the knot you just created. Repeat the process above for the remaining beads on this side of the cord. Leave the 54th bead unknotted.
- As you get comfortable with knotting, you may wish to repeat your mantra, intention, or affirmation with each knot that you tie, imbuing your mala with its energy.
- Repeat steps 4-7 on the second side of cord. If using counter beads, tie a knot after the 54th bead and add the final counter bead unknotted.
- Knot the two loose ends of string together, completing the circuit of beads. Secure the final knot with glue.
- Once the glue dries, activate your mala by holding it between your hands in prayer position, infusing love and healing light into the beads.
- Cleanse and charge your mala by placing it in view of the full moon each month.
Photos courtesy of Kaity Rose.