A mala is a string of beads used in japa meditation to count mantras, prayers, or intentions. Malas can also be used to count breaths or used in a gratitude meditation. Mala is a Sanskrit word meaning garland. Malas are a type of meditation beads or prayer beads and are ancient tools that were developed to keep the mind focused and clear from thoughts. A full mala contains 108 counting beads plus one guru bead.