I’m a new devotee on this path. I have seen Ananda stores selling malas made of rudraksha or other crystals. What are they used for?
—N S, India
Malas (prayer necklaces) are usually used for counting pranayama (e.g. breathing exercises), japa (repeating a spiritual sentence during the day) or mantra chanting. They are usually made of 108 beads. In Ananda’s case, we mostly use them for Kriya Yoga pranayama. Often you will see that the mala of 108 beads is divided into nine sections of twelve beads, because traditionally pranayamas are done 12 times, 24 times, etc. up to 108 times. We do the same. It has to do with cosmic cycles.
Rudraksha means “Shiva’s eye” and it is mostly used for strengthening concentration. You might also find sandalwood beads, which are said to have a devotional effect. The crystals you saw: all of them have a different vibration and effect: red stones give inner power, crystals and clear stones are for the heart, and so on.
Some people also like to put the image of their Guru on the mala, which is a wonderful thing, as in this way you carry him or her with you very close to the heart, to the body, to your aura.
All the best, may your young path be deeply blessed,