The malas we make and sell at Northern Lights Vedic are semi traditional styles of malas and 1/2 malas used for spiritual practices. The longer mala has108 beads that we usually make in groups of 11 plus a counter bead which makes 9 groups of 12. The bead at the bottom is called a Guru bead. The word mala comes from Sanskrit and means garland.
Malas are used to keep track of spiritual meditation practices such as Kriya yoga and breathing exercises. We can use the mala and not have to put mental energy towards counting.
Another important use of a mala is for counting repetitions of mantras. In Vedic astrology there are planetary mantras which help us to attune to the energy of the different planets. There are also mantras such as the gayatri mantra and mahamritinjaya manta which are often repeated mentally and kept track of with a mala.
Another use of a mala is for japa which is repeating the Holy names of God. This is similar to how Catholic rosaries are used for prayers.
We also make a 1/2 mala on sterling silver wire. which is very flexible and easy to slip over the head or put in a pocket. We use a heavy gauge of silver wire which allows this mala to last a lifetime.
The 1/2 mala has 4 sets of 11 beads with a larger counter bead. One of the counter beads drops down as a Guru bead. This makes it is easy to keep track when the Mala is used to count in groups of 12 or a full 48.
We make planetary malas by using gemstones that carry the influence of Vedic planets for counter beads and sometimes for the full mala.
We also incorporate planetary gemstone counter beads with rudraksha malas. Rudraksha beads have a long history of use for sacred malas in several religions. Rudraksha is a Sanskrit word associated with one of Shiva's names, Rudra.