Sadly, Christine has retired her blog, Yoga dot Om, which was the original source of this mala tutorial. 🙁 Therefore, I’m updating this post to remove links to the tutorial. I’ll post the tutorial in its entirety here instead. The tutorial and photos are compliments of my sweet friend, Christine!
I’m really excited to share this post with you–it’s from one of my friends, Christine. I’ve known Christine for many years. In fact, we used to work together in high school. Christine now lives in Berlin, Germany, and blogs about yoga, writing, and the importance of slowing down.
Christine recently posted a fantastic tutorial about how to make a mala necklace or bracelet. What is a mala, you say? In Christine’s words:
A mala is typically used during meditation to help count mantras. Traditionally, a mala is composed of 108 beads, but there are also varieties with 21 or 27 beads. To get a basic overview on the mala and its use, you can get started by reading this article from Ram Dass, Use a Mala.
When it is not in use, you can also wear your mala as a bracelet or necklace. Not only does it serve as a reminder to meditate, but it also helps you to focus on the intention of the mantra that you’ve chosen or you have been given. For example, my mantra is “let go.” Whenever I wear my mala, I remember the importance of accepting change, breathing deep, not worrying, and just being in the present.
Here’s what you need:
- For a necklace: 104 beads + 4 marker beads (or 108 of the same beads) and 6 feet of nylon thread. For a bracelet: 21 or 27 beads and 1.5 feet of thread.
- 1 guru bead
- 1 beading needle (Btw, this kind of silk beading cord come with a needle and it’s cheaper than nylon thread.)
- Krazy Glue
- 1 tassel
- Scissors and a beading board to help you keep your beads in order (or, if you don’t want to buy a beading board, you can use a towel)
You can browse a variety of beautiful malas here for inspiration. When you’re ready, here are the steps to make your own:
Step 1: Lay out your beads in the order you’d like to string them. To ensure symmetry, identify the middle point of the beads where your guru bead will sit. On each side of the guru bead, you will have 54 beads. A beading board or a terrycloth towel will help you maintain your sanity by keeping the beads from rolling away. I used a table with a groove in it. Be creative!
Step 2: Make a knot at the end of your thread, leaving 3 in of space between the end of the thread and the knot. If necessary, use a very small bead to prevent larger beads from falling off of the thin thread.
Step 3: String your beads onto the thread in your desired pattern. (Note: Mala necklaces are sometimes strung with knots between each bead. This requires a lot of patience and concentration, which in itself can be a meditation. If you would like tips and tricks on making knots between each bead, or if you would just like additional input on making a mala, watch this awesome video. The video also helped me get started. However, after struggling with the knots, I decided to make my mala without them.
Step 4: Once all 108 beads are on the necklace, it’s time to attach the guru bead. If you used a small bead in the beginning of stringing, then be sure to use another so that the necklace remains symmetrical. Next, string on the guru bead by inserting both ends of the thread through the one bead.
Step 5: If the hole in the guru bead is very large, you may want to use another small bead to keep the larger beads from falling off. Tie a double knot. Then use a dot of Krazy Glue on the knot to make sure that all of your hard work does not come undone.
Step 6: The beading part of the mala-making process is finished and now it is time to attach your tassel! You can either attach a pre-made tassel, or make your own out of embroidery thread. If you are making your own, scroll down to the bottom of this post to find out how. With the needle attached to one end of the thread, draw it through the tassel. Then take the other end of the thread and also draw it through the tassel. I find it helps to cross the threads. Do this once or twice more. Then tie a double knot at the top of the tassel, underneath either the guru bead or the small bead. Cut the ends.
And voila! Now you’ve got yourself a gorgeous mala necklace or bracelet. May it bring you a lot of joy!
Before you go, here is some wisdom from Christine’s post, Learning to be Still:
It took me several months to get used to the idea that I did not have to be busy every minute of the day. For the first time in my life I felt like there was time to relax, time to just drink a cup of tea, time to stare out into the ocean. My entire outlook changed once I let myself slow down and stopped believing that busy was best. Through books like A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, I began to recognize that identifying with the constant chatter in my head was misleading and destructive, that the things I owned did not define who I was, that their purchase only ever brought temporary joy, and that unhappiness is not a result of the situation but rather your thoughts about it.
After several months of doing yoga in a studio and at home, I found myself one day sitting on my sofa with a cup of tea, staring out of the window. After several minutes of silence, I realized that I had made a huge progress: I had finally learned to just sit still and be content.
Christine, thank you for your inspiring words and mala tutorial!