This memoir, in poetry and journal entries, of eight summers on retreat with a spiritual guide also explores writing as a pathway to higher self. The word “yoga” here takes on its core meaning of “union,” that is, any practice or discipline that brings together mind, body, and spirit, giving rise to greater awareness.

Wake up to write. Write to wake up. Becoming the blank page. Even though words express a state of mind, sometimes waiting silently for them brings a drop of reality,” writes Shaw. “There are poems—as haiku and Hindu poetics suggest—that give the savor of a moment in a way that rouses me and attracts me to an experience of another quality. But how to create such poems? What is the process? Who creates?”

Each poem carries an invitation to feel the silence around the words.

Focusing one’s attention while composing a poem can bring a heightened experience that transforms writers and permits a higher vibration to be expressed. The section “Writing Your Yoga” offers writing experiments in this mode, so very soon you’ll be writing your own yoga poems.

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Once more, climbing the path up the mountain. With a nasty cold. Preoccupied here, of all places. Can I leave my baggage in the valley? Can I leave myself at the door?

At breakfast, we are talking machines. I don’t feel kind. And everyone will see. Then, an announcement. No more discussions. Instead, sittings, music, and sacred dances that demand complete attention in each moment. And it opens me.

What is change? It’s not that this or that characteristic becomes something else. It is that in a moment I am radically changed, altogether changed, for that moment. And I recognize it. The struggle to get rid of or go toward something is gone. What a relief!

Whatever this energy is that passes through me, for the microseconds I live in it, my perception of people changes as well. I hear your words, yet I’m as interested in the light there in your eyes, the Life we share, the same in you as in me. One toe in the ocean, and I am no longer at sea. We are here together for this, here in the current of life—the teacher in you, the teacher in me.

How to Quiet the Mind

Go wide,

says the ocean

says the sky.


say the trees

say the tides.


say the stars

say the wise.

And fly,

says the light

winging by.



“Few writers can capture the essence of a moment as spot-on as Shaw. In Writing My Yoga, her spiritual journey leads to a realization that the best way to live and write is to be reborn not once a lifetime but once a second.”

–Allia Zobel-Nolan, Former Senior Editor, Reader’s Digest Books

“The astonishing passion of Fran Shaw’s collection leaves an indelible trace of a world behind the mundane, a world empty of all claims except to taste it deeply.”

–David Appelbaum, Former Editor of Parabola