Thank you for your encouraging feedback. I do find reciting a very inspiring practice, letting the expressive capacities bathe in and be nourished by vocalising the sutras or verses which pulsate with such inspired wisdom. One of my Sanskrit teachers has said how recitation can really help neutralise disharmony/ills and promote cohesion in all parts of our life, and help us communicate more effectively in any language! I certainly feel very grateful for this practice.
With regard to the memorization, I got a real helping head start on the Sutra-s. When I first went to continue my Sanskrit studies in India in 2008, I stayed with the first Indian Sanskrit teacher I studied with, Dr MA Jayashree. At that time, we would have Sanskrit class early morning, but she was also running a Yoga Sutra chanting class for 90 minutes in the late afternoon Mondays to Thursdays, which I was able to attend every day, and which really helped me deepen my familiarity with the Sutra-s. The next Indian Sanskrit teachers I worked with also placed great emphasis on recitation and pronunciation. It was the flavour and richness of the recitation that spurred me on when the Sanskrit grammar part was so tough for me!
With regard to the words at the beginning and end of the recitation: it's a bit like the title and closing, or if it was printed, the front and back cover. At the beginning it says: 'Now, in the glorious Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, the Samadhi Pada, which is the first section/chapter.' At the end, I say almost the same: 'That was the Samadhi Pada, which is the first section/chapter of the glorious Yoga Sutra of Patanjali and it is completed'. I guess you could describe it as oral indexing, it serves to announce what you are going to recite and close it. When studying, it also works as a way to remind yourself where you are, and what you are learning if you are learning lots of texts by heart.
I am appreciating (again!) what you have shared here in regards to the importance of memorizing and chanting the text. And certainly, chanting is very calming - I have heard it described as the original pranayama practice. It works on so many levels...
Memorizing is a forgotten art and I personally find it quite challenging. But, by reciting every day, and listening to the chant it kind of instals itself into you, that's my experience anyway. I will be happy the day that I can recite and look away, from the printed page, although looking at Sanskrit is its own reward at bestowing beauty, and I can't yet read Sanskrit, I am a beginner, but I appreciate the aesthetic of the experience..Thank you James for the experience.