What are mala beads?

Although beautiful, mala beads are so much more than just a pretty piece of jewelry. They’re powerful, symbolic meditation tools that have been used for thousands of years to focus the mind and soothe the spirit.

A mala, which is Sanskrit for garland, is a string of beads—typically 108, in addition to one larger guru bead—that is used to keep count of mantra recitations while meditating. Malas can help the wearer focus her mind, and are often used to recite mantras in sets of 108 repetitions. The guru bead is used as a place marker when reciting mantras, letting you know that you’ve reached the end of your 108 recitations.

The number 108 is significant in many cultures across the world. At Mala and Mantra, we believe the number 108 represents the universe as one thing (1), nothing (0) and everything (8) all at once.


Also known as meditation beads or japa malas—with “japa” meaning repetition in Sanskrit—these tools have been used since the 8th century, with beginnings in India. They’re thought to be the predecessor for many types of prayer beads, such as the Catholic rosary. Similar to praying with rosary beads, meditating with mala beads has been proven to improve well-being, redirect your mind away from daily distractions, and replace negative energy with positive thoughts, beliefs and habits.

Malas are often worn as jewelry, but they can also be placed at the end of your yoga mat when practicing, on an altar when meditating, or kept anywhere else you might need a reminder of your spiritual practice, intentions or mantras. When not being used specifically for meditation, mala beads can help wearers carry a sense of peace, calm, mindfulness + focus with them throughout the day. 

Malas are made from a variety of materials, including gemstones, wood beads, seeds or crystals. At Mala and Mantra, we only use the highest-quality materials—including sustainable wood beads and semi-precious gemstones—to handcraft long-lasting malas. Each gemstone in our collections offers a specific set of healing properties and energies, and includes a personalized mantra that can be used during meditation or repeated throughout the day to help you embody those characteristics.