11 Ways to Use Your Yoga Jewelry to Up-Level Your Practice
Mala beads, check.
Now, I’m ready to practice!
We all have those things that we do every day, like yours truly. I get up, brush my teeth, meditate, journal, eat, work, practice, eat and work some more, read, sleep, and repeat. Of course, I do other things, too—but my non-negotiable “everydays,” as I like to call them, are always there for me—as are my malas.
My mala beads have become a staple part of my yoga practice and my wardrobe. Yes, I said it, part of my wardrobe. Some traditionalists may wince at the concept of categorizing a mala as a fashion accessory. But the truth is, malas are a common yoga accessory worn around the wrist or neck, therefore they can also be categorized as jewelry,“yoga jewelry,”or “meditation jewelry.”
For me, wearing a mala or two (or three) every day not only reminds me to stay present, but they also help me relax in stressful situations, and above all, increase the vibration in and around me.
For starters, I will share what a mala is, a little bit about their history and why I find them so helpful.
A Brief History of Malas
A mala is a string of beads traditionally used for prayer or meditation. Traditionally, there are 108 beads on a mala, or some division of 108. But that’s not always the case, as malas are often sized to fit for comfort. Malas can be made of wood, stone, or seed beads and they are either strung on elastic cord or knotted string. Often there is a guru bead, which represents the teacher, and there may be a tassel, which represents Oneness.
If a mala is used for meditation, there are several techniques that can be practiced, such as counting breaths, mantras, intentions, or gratitudes by focusing on aligning each bead with an inhalation and exhalation.
In addition to using a mala as a meditation tool, I believe wearing a mala can act as spiritual armor or sorts, by protecting us as we journey through life. I sometimes refer to malas as “stress busters” because they can snap us into presence the moment we feel a negative emotion, such as stress, anxiety or worry. All we have to do is reach down, touch or rub our malas, and we are instantly brought into the present moment.
11 Easy Ways Your Mala Can Help You Up-Level Your Practice
In addition to using malas as a meditation tool and for overall mindfulness, I believe they can pump some serious energy into your yoga practice! Here are my 11 tips to use your yoga jewelry to up-level your practice:
1. Include mala beads as part of your yoga wardrobe. Humans are creatures of habit. So, if you make your mala beads an integral part of your practice—say, for example, you lay your mala across the top of your yoga mat—you’ll be bound to use them and reap the many benefits the malas provide. If you see them, you will use them.
2. Wear your mala during your yoga practice to help you stay present. By wearing malas on your body you can feel them, and also hear them. As you move your body, the malas will move, too, and they will make a sweet sound (or jingle) that many describe as a soothing sound. So, if you feel and hear your beads as you practice, it can add another layer of presence throughout your asana practice.
3. Place your mala at the top of your yoga mat to help with visual focus. Yogis who practice with a focal point—or drishti, in Sanskrit—say it helps with concentration and a withdrawal of the senses, which relates to the fifth (pratyahara) and sixth (dharana) limbs of yoga in Pantanjali’s Yoga Sutra. Pratyahara relates to the ‘withdrawal of the senses’ and dharana is translated into the 'concentration of the mind’. Sounds like a peaceful technique to me!
4. Put your mala beside you as your practice to remind you of your intention.. An example of an intention may be, “I want to practice kindness today.” It can be a kindness for yourself, for others, or overall. Setting an intention at the beginning of your practice is very powerful, and the energy of your mala beads will only intensify that energy.
5. Position your (stone) malas somewhere near you as you practices to absorb the vibrations of the energies in the stones. All gemstones carry energetic vibrations, so depending on what you may want or need during your practice, you can choose your stone mala strategically. For example, if you are looking for more energy, you may want to use our chakra mala that promotes energy. If you are looking to cultivate more awareness, you may choose to use our howlite mala, which ignites a higher consciousness. If you want to invite more power into your practice, choose citrine mala bracelets. Bottom line, if you want to ignite specific energy into your practice, invite your malas onto the mat with you.
6. Touch your mala throughout your day and use it as a gentle reminder to come back to the present moment every time your mind starts wandering. Have you ever felt stressed out, worried, or frazzled? Have you ever been driving and suddenly you are a couple of exits past your exit? Have you ever been in conversation with someone and respond with, “Yea, that’s right,” for them only to respond, “I didn’t ask you anything.” I bet we have all experienced one or all of these scenarios at some point in our lives, and I call this the case of unmindfulness. I think we can all get better being present with ourselves and others, and malas can be a vehicle for that change.
7. Use your mala as a reminder to meditate, even if it’s just a minute of breathing. Start with one minute, then two, then three, and soon you’ll be craving more and more quiet time. Meditation, which is defined as a practice of focusing the mind on a particular object, thought, or activity, is an incredibly beneficial practice. Focusing your mind on your mala while you meditate is one of the best ways I know how to start a consistent practice!
8. Wear your mala to connect with your community. Ever see a pod of dolphins and watch them swim in unison? Or see a group of animals as they herd across plains? Or watch birds as they migrate high in the sky? Wild animals instinctually connect and harmonize, and humans do the same thing every time we practice movement together, whether that movement is yoga, cycling, swimming, or anything, really. If we incorporate a symbol in that movement, such as a mala, it’s an unspoken recognition of that bond with your tribe.
9. Hold your malas and use them when you meditate to count 108 mantra repetitions. And, if 108 is an overwhelming number, just start with one. Each mindful breath you take will elevate your level on consciousness. It’s not necessarily the quantity, but rather the quality that matters.
10. Gift your mala to someone who may need it. Think of it as kindness, or karma, or generosity, or compassion, or whatever word resonates with you when you think of giving. I know a fellow yogi who does this all the time. He gets his malas from us, wears them for a bit, and when his soul speaks, he listens and gifts his mala beads to someone who he thinks needs it. He’s actually planning on doing this on a bigger scale at this year’s Burning Man festival. We are currently in the designing stage, but he plans to gift close to a 100 Five Star Hippie® malas to others living their best lives out on the playa. There’s a saying I absolutely love: “For it is in giving that we receive.” When we give, it just feels good.
11. Rest with your malas before or after practice. Last, but not least—and possibly most important!—find a quiet place and just sit with your precious beads. Make it a sacred time, because peace and love start within. When you take time to nurture yourself, peace and love can radiate out into the world.
There you have it, my top tips for using yoga jewelry to up-level your practice. I recommend using and/or wearing your mala beads every day and making them part of your daily routine; perhaps even making them a non-negotiable like I do. And my guess is that you may just see a bit of magic happen!
If you choose to use Five Star Hippie® malas on your journey, rest assured that we use high quality, authentic materials that are infused with loving energy. They can be worn as bracelets or necklaces, or used as a yoga accessory or ornament around your home or in your car.
Above all, my hope is that your malas inspire you to connect to yourself, to your practice, and your mindfulness. If our malas help you do that, our work here is (somewhat) done!
And if you are wondering why I chose 11 tips, versus 10, it’s because a) its fun to be different, b) 11 makes me happy, and c) my angels guided me through this story.
With Love & Light,
Founder of Five Star Hippie®
Yogi Anissa Davis
Photographer Evan Tanaka