If you are a yogi or just spiritual AF, you’ve probably seen Japa mala necklaces . . . maybe you even own one. If you do, maybe you wear it as a fashion accessory or use it during meditation and you probably paid a pretty price for it. But, did you know that you can easily and affordably make your own Japa mala necklace, charged with your creativity, good vibes, and positive intentions?
What is a Japa Mala Necklace?
Japa malas or malas are beautiful strands of 108 sacred beads that have been used in meditation for millennia by Hindus. And modern yogis are now finding empowerment and enlightenment in these sacred beads.
In Sanskrit, Japa mala literally translates to prayer beads for spiritual practice.
Hindus traditionally hold their malas in their right hand and slide their thumb across each bead to count each time a mantra is recited, for a total of 108 times. As a yogi, it was only a matter of time until I learned how to make my very own Japa mala. Making a Japa mala is a very meditative practice that can be just as healing as actually using the mala to recite mantras.
What is the significance of 108?
Ever wonder why mala necklaces have 108 beads? The exact meaning of the number 108 is open to interpretation across cultures and disciplines, but there is no denying its significance. Look at where 108 shows up:
- In the ancient text of the Vedas, there are 108 Hindu Scriptures (or Upanishads)
- In Vedic Astrology, there are 12 zodiac houses and nine planets when multiplied the total is 108
- There are 108 Qi energy lines (or meridians) within the body
- In numerology, the number 1 stands for God, 0 is the wholeness of spirit found through enlightenment or non-attachment, and 8 represents infinity
Japa Mala Necklace Materials
Mala beads are made from many different materials stone, wood, bone, or seeds from the Rudraksha tree. Japa mala necklaces are traditionally strung on a hand-knotted cord with 108 beads, plus a guru bead (the anchor at the center of the mala, above the tassel), and a tassel.
To choose the beads, it may be best to go to a bead store and let the energy of the beads speak to you. You can also find most of these items in a bead store, so it’s a good option for a one-stop-shop.
- Beadsmith or a board to lay out your beads and accessories (optional)
- Jewelry tweezers or pliers (they should have a sharp point)
- Bead cord (I like to use the ones with the needle already attached for easy stringing)
- Yarn or fabric cord to make the tassel
- Jeweler’s glue or crazy glue
- 1 medium-sized stone or 12 mm bead for the guru bead
- 108 6-8mm beads
- Additional options charms or accent beads
How to Choose Beads Based on Their Energetic Properties
Crystals and gemstones carry different frequencies of vibration, giving them specific properties that help you heal, amplify your energy, and even invite love into your life. You can choose a crystal based on its healing properties, color, or just simply because it calls to you. Here are a few ideas to start with:
Healing: Apache Tears, Amethyst, Obsidian
Grounding: Agate, Jasper, Smoky Quartz
Calming: Blue Lace Agate, Blue Calcite, Aquamarine
Love: Emerald, Rose Quartz, Chrysoprase
Abundance or Luck: Jade, Aventurine, Citrine
Happiness: Ocean Jasper, Peridot, Carnelian
Intuition: Apatite, Lapis Lazuli, Moonstone, Sodalite
Clarity: Clear quartz, Calcite, Hematite, Azurite
Traditionally, Japa mala necklaces were never to touch the ground as that was believed to be a sign of disrespect. And when not in use, they were to be placed in a pouch, away from the elements. Malas (and crystals alike) are believed to carry the energy of the individual who wears them, so they are not be handled or touched by anyone else, as to not absorb their energy.
How to Choose Beads Based on Your Astrological Sign
In Hinduism, Vedic Astrology plays a major role in daily life. By choosing beads based on your astrological sign, you can support and strengthen the characteristics that your sign embodies. Find the stone allies for your sign below:
Aries: Agate, Aquamarine, Aventurine, Dolomite, Jade, Tourmaline
Taurus: Emerald, Malachite, Amber, Angel Wing Agate, Chrysanthemum stone
Gemini: Agate, Apatite, Citrine, Emerald, Natural glass
Cancer: Bornite (Peacock Rock), Citrine, Moonstone, Ruby
Leo: Carnelian, Onyx, Golden Topaz, Sunstone
Virgo: Malachite, Unakite, Calcite, Cluster Quartz
Libra: Gold Rutilated Quartz, Fire Opal, Fire Agate, Flourite
Scorpio: Smoky quartz, Topaz, Amethyst, Sodalite
Sagittarius: Blue topaz, Turquoise, Lapis Lazuli, Tourmaline
Capricorn: Agate, Tiger’s Eye, Smoky Quartz, Black Tourmaline
Aquarius: Garnet, Hematite, Amethyst, Rainforest Jasper
Pisces: Aquamarine, Bloodstone, Blue Lace Agate, Lapis Lazuli
Follow this step-by-step guide to create your very own Japa mala necklace, charged with intention:
Stay open in the creative process and follow your intuition. Creativity flows best when you do not overthink the process. Before you begin, set an intention for your mala so that whenever you wear it, you can channel and manifest your specific intention.
1. Gather All Your Materials
On a flat and clean surface, prepare your 108 beads for stringing. If you are using a variety of beads, you may want to lay them in the order you want to string them. Note: This is where the beadsmith board is helpful.
2. Tie the End Knot
Take your bead cord and measure a 2-inch segment from the end, without the needle. Tie a large knot at this 2-inch mark, leaving the extra bit of cord at the end. This will be the starting point for your mala and you will need the extra 2 inches of cord to tie the guru bead and tassel.
Note: You will place the guru bead under this knot. Make sure you are organizing your beads in the correct order, starting from here.
3. Thread the First Bead
Taking the end with the needle, thread your first bead onto the cord, and push it all the way to the end with the knot. It should be pressed firmly against the end knot.
4. Add a Knot
Extend your index and middle finger (use your less dominant hand for this step). Wrap the cord around these two fingers twice. You can hold the cord in place with your thumb. Take the needle end of the cord and slide it into the loop, sliding it behind your fingers/hand. Grab your tweezer/plier with your dominant hand.
Next, pull the cord taut, until a knot starts to form toward the top of the bead. Try to get the knot as close to the top as you can. Then use the tweezer/plier to slide the knot down so that it tightens snug against the bead.
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