Got Mala? Everybody knows what they are… but what do they mean?
by Samantha Levy


With so many stylish malas, it’s easy to forget that these beads carry with them a deep significance. A sister can’t lie: I love wearing my mala, but this yogi was a bit in the dark about some of the history behind these blessed beads! Thankfully my spiritual soul sister Veronica Rules, founder and owner of AshramChic, a yoga and meditation lifestyle company that honors the sacredness of the beads while adding a chic urban touch, was willing to indulge my thirst for more knowledge. Educate me, sister.


Where does the significance of 108 beads come from?

“There are many reasons thought to be used for 108 and the reasons differ between all the traditions (Buddhism, Hinduism, Catholicism). The most universal answer I have found is that 108 represents the whole of existence. There are said to be 108 types of meditation. Some say there are 108 paths to God.”


What is the proper use of mala beads for mediation? Is there a specific hand I place them in, specific finger placement?

“Proper use is in the right hand with the mala hanging between the middle finger and thumb.  The pointer finger is not used to scroll the beads, as it is believed to be very energetically charged.  Each scrolling of the bead is coordinated with an inhale and exhale while repeating your mantra.”


Am I inviting energy, peace, serenity, love, into my life simply by wearing my beads? (I hope so!)

“I hope so too!  Energy flows where our attention goes.  So the answer is yes.  It is all about what we are thinking and feeling.  If we are having thoughts of peace, love and serenity and truly feeling that in our core, then yes, we are inviting that in.  The beads always provide me with a visual stimulation or reminder to keep my mind in check.  The repeating of our mantras helps keep our mind focused and if we focus on those attributes, we practice them, than we embody them.  This isn’t to say this is the only thing that needs to be done: mantras and meditation beads lead to magic where you are transported into celestial harps and clouds, however it does give our monkey mind training to sit still and be quiet even for a few moments.”


**Um wait, Vero: No celestial harps and clouds? Come on, now! I am not convinced…

Are mala beads, rosary beads and prayer beads all the same thing?


They are all used for the same thing, prayer and mediation.  The one nuance that I see between traditional prayer and meditation is that in prayer I feel we are asking and in meditation we are listening.  Having grown up in a Latin Roman Catholic household I am very familiar with rosary beads. Having spent the last 8 years as an advanced yoga and meditation teacher, I am now every familiar with mala beads.  We use them the same way.  Our mantra (mala beads) and prayer (rosary beads) help us focus our mind on one focal point: The Divine.

I’m in the market for a new set of mala beads. What do I bring into my shopping experience to assist me in picking the right set of beads?

Great question!  Our personal favorites are with semi precious stones.  Each stone has its own energy and properties.  We can choose based on our birthstone or whatever it is we feel needs healing in our lives.  Another one of my favorite ways to choose a new mala is to just have fun with it and see what’s speaking to you.



Samantha Levy

Samantha is an LA transplant who hails from New York. Sam traveled the globe, following her bliss to Australia before finding her serenity on the West Coast. She is now pursuing a suppressed dream of earning her master’s degree in psychology. Writing will always be her first true love, yoga her religion and friends her chosen family.

© 2014 Sisterhood of the Traveling Mats. Design by The Darling Tree. Development by Hyphen.