I am lucky to have a friend who is so open and into Yoga that she has really pushed me further into my practice from being someone who did Yoga half heartedly to actually becoming a teacher and teaching classes. Without her I would not have learned as much as I have today due to my own closed-mindedness. Admittedly I have also not had many great Yoga teachers that I was able to make good connections with in the past until somewhat more recently.
I used to be really anti-spiritual chanting yoga stuff. Really. I always felt like...crazy Yoga people should not be pushing their issues and spiritual stuff on me and/or their students -I actually still believe this. On top of this I used to hate chanting. I thought...many of these in experienced Yoga teachers are chanting all kinds of crazy things they may not even understand and I'm not going to participate. Especially when they are chants to a diety. I am just saying...respect that people are not into what you're into is all. I also still believe this! However, being at Ananda Ashram and learning Sanskrit and chants from people who can really break it down and explain the meaning and also give commentary about these ancient words is something different to me. I found it much more eye opening and I didn't mind participating. I suppose in a Yoga class there isn't much time to sit there for an instructor to break it down piece by piece but it is what it is.
Also learning that the Sanskrit language is meant to resonate with certain chakras in your system, moving energies. A chant I chose recently for Japa "Om Namah Shivaya" because I liked how it sounded, heard a few teachers I practice with use it and its also easy for me to remember. But learning more about it...the sound Shiva connects you to the "universal intelligence" or I just say...the energy of the universe. In general the chant can help bring energy back into your body. It is also said to help bring in positive energy and dispel negative. It honors the divine/God within yourself.