Drop in on a yoga class anywhere in America, and chances are good that you'll hear a melody wafting from a nearby boom box or stereo. Be it Sanskrit mantras, soft synthesizer textures, or even contemporary indie hits, music is often an integral part of yoga instruction in the West. But Krishnamacharya, the father of modern yoga and teacher of B.K.S. Iyengar, K. Pattabhi Jois, and T.K.V. Desikachar, did not hold trance dances for his students.
While some teachers hail music as a modern evolution to an ancient practice, others feel it creates another unnecessary distraction in the yoga studio. Decisions about playing music are highly individualized. While it seems pretty certain that music during practice isn't traditional, many contemporary teachers and students are trying to balance the classical wisdom of yoga with the realities of modern life.