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Frequently Asked Questions


What You May Be Wondering…


What is a mala?  

A mala is an ancient yogic tool that helps us recite daily mantra meditations or prayers. They also look great around your neck or wrist as a reminder of your intentions and to pay attention to the sources of love and light in your life. When you’re not using your mala, just place it in a soft bag or let it rest at your altar or sacred space. 

If you’re looking to boost intuition, keep your physical and mental health bright, grow energy, heighten concentration, open communication, cultivate patience, and create a deep space for enlightenment, then malas are for you. Studies show that daily mantra practice makes for a healthier life. Beyond lowering blood pressure, reducing stress, and relieving anxiety and depression, daily mantras reinvigorate the soul with purpose.

Malas are strung with semiprecious gemstones in 108, 54, 27, or 21 bead sequences. The beads carry healing energetic properties from their natural gemstone and these transformational elements will rub off on your mantra practice.

You might also hear mala beads referred to as japa malas, prayer beads, yoga beads, bhakti beads or buddhist rosaries.


What is a mantra?

A mantra is a positive message made up of word(s) and/or sound(s) that you repeat over and over again to remove obstacles and welcome spiritual awakening. Traditionally, mantras were uttered in Sanskrit and often used to call attention from the divine God/Gods/Goddesses. Not all Sanskrit mantras aim toward a particular diety, and many people create their own modern day mantras, also known as affirmations. 


Is this the same as a rosary?

Sort of! Prayer beads have been used for ages and ages, across many different cultures and religions. Japa malas are one traditional tool to pray and meditate with, as are Catholic rosaries, Muslim tasbih, Greek komboloi, etc. 

How do I use my mala?

Below you'll find specific directions for using malas during japa or mantra meditation, but keep in mind that there’s no wrong way to use your mala. Some like to keep their malas in their hands while they meditate or pray to infuse their intentions into the gemstones. Others enjoy using a mala to focus their breathing, moving along the beads with each breath. Meditation and prayer are such a personal practice; with time you'll find a method that feels perfect for you. 


*Kick off those shoes and get comfortable in a straight backed seated position with your feet on the earth, or in a cross legged lotus position.


*Pay attention to what your breath is doing. Focus on your inhalation and exhalation for a few minutes and clear your mind to this natural rhythm.


*Hold your prayer beads in one hand and then drape the strand over your middle finger. Keep your index finger out of the mix because it’s associated with the ego and shouldn’t touch your beads. Keep your other hand face-up, on your knee or at your side, to receive energy. 

*Starting with the first bead next to the guru bead (that's the big one that your tassel is attached to), use your thumb to push each bead down the line as you finish reciting your mantra. You can let the silent echoes reverberate in your mind (which is said to be the most difficult and powerful form of practice) or you can chant, mutter, whisper, or sing the mantra aloud. Leave your eyes open or closed- you choose which feels best for you. 

*Say the mantra every time a bead moves between your fingers. If you are using a full 108-bead mala, you can stop when you reach the guru bead again, or move backward in the opposite direction if you desire another round of recitation. (If you’re using a 27-bead mala bracelet to accomplish 108 mantras, you’ll need to repeat the cycle three times after your first round. )


40-day mantra sadhana: Practice the same mantra for 40 consecutive days to see big change manifest in your life.


What's so important about having 108 beads?  

There are many many different explanations for why 108 is a sacred number, but here are a few of our favorites: 

*The number 108 is said to represent one thing, nothing, and everything all at the same time. (1=one, 0= none, 8= infinity or all)

*108 is the number of marma points on our body. Similar to acupuncture or reflexology, each marma is connected to our vital life force, and stimulates a corresponding organ in the body. 

*There are said to be 108 emotions that humans are capable of feeling.

*Imagine 108 channels sprouting from the heart chakra to the rest of the body. Chanting your mantra 108 times carries your intentions into each of these stations, thus being said to purify the whole body. 

While we feel that the number of beads on your mala and the recitations of mantras you utter aren't as important as the intentions behind your practice, we find that there’s something reassuring and beautiful about sticking to ancient healing traditions. 

Why gemstones?  

In addition to being stunningly beautiful, gemstones have wonderful metaphysical healing properties! You can read more about the meanings behind each gemstone we use on our gemstones page.


What's so special about rudraksha? 

Again, it’s about sacred history. Rudraksha beads are said to represent the tears or eye of Shiva. Hindu tradition tells that Shiva cried out of compassion and it’s believed that by wearing rudrakshas against the skin, a person is spiritually connected with Shiva and his ability to assist humanity in healing itself. That’s why Vedic texts always show sages and yogis wearing rudrakshas. The beads are seeds from the Rudraksha tree, which contains the cosmic power to help the soul ascend on its truest path. Every seed is said to contain a microcosm of the magic and secrets of the universal cosmos. Who doesn’t want a little divine protection and abundance in their life? 


Why Sanskrit? 

Physiologically speaking, Sanskrit is a language that heals. Many yogis, all over the world, are devoting their studies to the powerful effects this language has on our physical, mental, and spiritual ways of being. 

The ancient vibrational sounds of Sanskrit were constructed to penetrate the analytical mind and impact the nervous system. As one of the oldest languages in the world, Sanskrit sounds like it looks. This connection between auditory and visual realms is incredibly special because the union creates space for us to view the universe, and our place in it, from a fresh perspective. With the illusions of the world behind us, speaking Sanskrit frees us from the negative messages bombarding our systems on a regular basis.


Oh no! What if my mala broke? 


For a practical answer, check out the policies page on this website. 

The spiritual explanation for a broken mala is a bit more complex. There’s no need to worry. Many people believe that a broken mala represents a breakthrough of sorts, signifying the end of troublesome patterns and a crumbling of your karmic knots. Gemstones also have a way of releasing us once they've served their purpose. If your gemstone is done with you, it might just fall right off your body as a way to let you know. Your broken mala symbolizes tremendous personal growth. Good job, you! 

Some people like to offer their broken mala as a gift to the earth by burying it in the dirt. Others keep their malas around as a reminder of their spiritual growth.  If you'd like your mala restrung, we can do that for you too! Just send us an email at info@bijamalas.com  


How do I know which mala is right for me?

The answer will arrive. Just ask yourself what you need at this point in your journey. Trust that the malas you are drawn to are the right ones. If you aren't speaking to your higher self much these days, it’s always safe to go with what compliments your style or appeals to your aesthetics. We love helping our customers find the perfect gemstone combination. Shoot us an email if you'd like help finding the right mala for you!  


Have a question that hasn't been covered? We're happy to help! Send us a message through our contact page, or send an email to: info@bijamalas.com


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