How To Use A Mala

howtouseamala A Mala is a string of beads used to count mantras (Sanskrit prayers) or affirmations (unique to wearer) in sets of 108 repetitions.

A mantra/affirmation is a word or series of words chanted aloud or silently to invoke spiritual qualities. Chanting is used as a spiritual tool in virtually every culture. In the yogic tradition a mantra is a Sanskrit word that has special powers to transform consciousness, promote healing or fulfill desires.


The practice of chanting a mantra/affirmation is used as a form of meditation. Sitting in a comfortable position, with the eyes closed, the mantra/affirmation is repeated silently or aloud. The mind is focused on the mantra/affirmation, the thoughts are let go of and the breath is slow and deep.

Hold your mala in your right hand and use your thumb to “count” each mantra/affirmation by touching the bead during the recitation and then lightly pulling the bead towards you on completion and moving to the next bead.  The index finger is extended and should not touch the mala.  The centre ‘meru’ (mountain) bead should not be counted or touched by the thumb and is used as a starting and ending point of the recitation.  If you have a wrist mala of 27 beads you will need to repeat this 3 more times.  Continue by pulling the beads and going backwards until you again end at the meru/centre and continue until you have done 108 repetitions, or multiples of 108.

To empower the mala and the mantra/affirmation used, japa (mantra/affirmation meditation) should be practiced each day for 40 continuous days.  When the mala becomes empowered it can be worn or lightly placed on oneself or others to transmit the energy of the mantra/affirmation as well as the energetic qualities of the mala.

When not in use, store your mala in a special, clean and preferably sacred space.

Choosing a Mantra/Affirmation

Traditionally in India a mantra is either given to you by a teacher but it can be chosen by yourself.  When selecting a mantra/affirmation, be clear on what your intention is, and use your intuition over your intellect.  You may want to try out each mantra/affirmation for a few repetitions to see how it feels to you and choose the one that feels like it fits best for you.

Examples of Affirmations: ‘I love and approve of myself’, ‘I am enough’, ‘I am that’, ‘I trust myself’.

Examples of Sanskrit Mantras and their Translation:

OM – The sound of the universe. It’s the first, original vibration, representing the birth, death and re-birth process.

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu – May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.

-Siya Pathmaraja