Definition - What does Tambura mean?
Tambura is the name used in southern India for a long-necked string instrument similar to a sitar or a lute. In northern India, the instrument is typically called a tanpura. It has a rich, metallic droning sound that provides a looping background in support of a melody, yet does not offer a rhythm.
The vibration of the tambura creates an ambiance that is an ideal accompaniment for yoga meditation and chanting. It's not unusual to hear the buzzing overtones of a tambura at a traditional yoga shala or in Indian classical music.
Yogapedia explains Tambura
The tambura is a hollow-body instrument with four to five strings, but unlike a sitar, has no frets. It's typically three to five feet long, constructed of wood and most often jackwood. The bowl-shaped section of the tambura is 10 to 18 inches wide and slightly convex.
An electronic tambura box, which replicates the sound of a tambura, is sometimes used in place of or in addition to the instrument, but purists criticize the practice. The box can be set to different keys and is convenient for use in a yoga studio or an ashram.