On the subject of chanting, I must admit I didn't start doing that until I had been practising for about a year (and that was not so long ago). Before that, I used to think it was quite ridiculous, taking into account that I practise on my own, at home. However, as I started to study the more philosophical and spiritual aspects of yoga, and became aware of the power and meaning of mantras, I slowly changed my mind. Nowadays, I chant both at the beginning and at the end of practice. My pronunciation might be awful, but I make sure I'm putting my heart into it.
I'll bet the opposite of yoga is true with chanting - in yoga, proper alignment and breathing are essential before you can progress "deeper" into a pose and have it be beneficial to you, but in chanting, I would think that putting your heart into it far supercedes having the textbook pronunciation down pat!
I've only done the tiniest bit of chanting myself - once in an all-day intensive at the studio I go to, and again at the Yoga Journal Conference in Boston last weekend, only about 10 minutes each time. I commend you for being able to do it at home alone, I think I might be horrified by the sound of my own voice!
Do you have any favorites?
Thanks for the advice Nicole. Yeah, that makes sense - for awhile at my studio they couldn't have any Bikram's classes, even though the instructor herself was certified, the studio itself was not. They would say it was "hot power" but tip everyone off that the instructor was a Bikram's instructor so you might get alittle of that mixed in. Now, they offer a few actual Bikram's classes, so they must've got the legality stuff all squared away! It IS confusing!
Looks like I'm on the right track so far - I go to all different classes and love to read about yoga (bought 4 books just at the conference!), we'll see where this takes me!