Malas are also known as prayer beads. Using beads for prayer as a meditation tool dates back beyond written history. You can see them used as a tool in almost every spiritual and religious practice. The oldest known form of the prayer bead is the Japa Mala used in Hindu prayer.
In the lineage of Kundalini Yoga, there is a strong history of the use of the mala both from the Kundalini teachings and the Sikh faith. Guru Nanak, whose writings are the foundational text of all Kundalini Mantras is almost always depicted with a mala in his hand or around his neck. Guru Ram Das, the teacher whose healing energy is so often called on in Kundalini meditations was also known to be constantly chanting with his mala, and many of the images of him show him with a mala in hand. Yogi Bhajan carried a mala with him all of the time and seemed to always be reciting his meditations as he taught, met with people, and did all the daily tasks in his life.
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