Restless Leg Syndrome, a Yoga Fix

This is me doing Leg Up the Wall Pose

(my blankets are a little off, and Cindy, the yoga teacher is a little weird about her blankets, just sayin…)

I’ve been asked many times how I deal with my restless leg syndrome, which is fairly bad. People are always surprised when I say I do yoga and that the pose I do is actually quite simple. So, I’m posting it for anyone who has the same trouble and would like to try.

This pose has a fancy name. It’s called: Legs Up The Wall. Yoga is nothing if not descriptive in naming the poses. If you want to know the sanskrit, it is Viparita Karani.

So, here’s what you do. Don’t be intimated. It is super easy, although yoga always requires a steady concentration, so don’t be slack in the pose. Do it as described and right before bedtime. For the more detailed person I have listed step-by-step procedures. For the person like myself who can never follow instructions, skip the instructions and read the summary below

I’m giving you Cindy’s instructions from her book. I’ll ask her later if that’s okay.
1. Place a bolster or two firm blankets at the wall.

2. Sit sideways on the edge of the bolster or blankets, with your left hip touching the wall.

3. Bend your legs and lay your right shoulder on the floor and your right hip on the support.

4. Roll your chest toward the ceiling and move your legs up the wall.

5. Adjust your body so both shoulders are touching the floor.

6. Balance your hips on the support. Relax your face (i.e. breath).

7. Rest, breathe, be.

8. If you can’t get your legs up the wall, move the blankets out away from the wall a bit and try again.

9. To come out of the pose, bend your knees and place your feet on the wall.

10. Gently push your body away from the wall until your hips are on the floor.

11. Bend your knees and roll to your side.

12. Wait for several breaths, then sit up.

If you’re not into details, I’ll shorten this for you.Grab two firm blankets or a bolster and place at the baseboard of the wall. Sit half your butt on the blankets, then roll yourself over into a position where you legs are straight up on the wall and your back is on the floor, butt supported by the blankets. If this hurts, back the whole procedure out from the wall somewhat until you’re comfortable. If your neck hurts, add a small pillow under your neck for support.

Stay in the pose a good five minutes and voila, no restless legs. At least it works for me. Good luck, and buy Cindy’s book, Yoga Your Way, you’ll love it.Cinthia

The Vote

I’m not sure what I expected from marriage counseling, but John, my husband seemed to expect that the counselor, Dr. Owens, would fix me right up and then he (John) would have the perfect marriage. In other words, then he (yes, John), would have sex as much as he wants (all the time), and it would be great sex (all the time).

So John wasted no time in telling Dr. Owens about my relationship with my sisters. He said, Savannah’s relationship with her sisters, like that would explain everything and all Dr. Owens needed to do was get to the root of that peculiar little alliance and all our problems (i.e. his sex life) would be history.

I could not figure out how examining my relationship with my sisters would get John a better sex life but Dr. Owens said I couldn’t talk while John was talking. “Each person has the right to be heard without the spouse interrupting,” Dr. Owens said.

“Ohhh…,” I said, shaking my head in this, well-of-course-type way, and thinking, why does he get to go first?

So since John, my generally quiet husband, was suddenly on a roll, I settled back into this big leather couch, the first time I had sat down all day actually, and wondered what to cook for supper, making a grocery list in my head. I especially liked the leather sofa and I was thinking how good it would look in my living room and since it was leather maybe my boys couldn’t destroy it.

After thirty minutes of list making (including a weekend birthday party for Lorne, my oldest–that was a relief). I started drumming my fingers rather loudly on the armrest. Was I ever going to get a turn? John gave me one of his indifferent looks, which translated means, “Would you stop acting like a child?” Oh all right, I stopped.

But I knew my sisters would be sitting by their phones waiting to hear how our first session went. I didn’t want to get their imaginations going anymore than I guessed they already were. Paula, who is married to Charles, the absolute sweetest man on earth, can’t understand the whole marriage counseling thing. She said, “What do you need marriage counseling for? Just be married.”

Abby, who is getting her doctorate degree in psychology said, “They have issues, Paula. Every couple has issues. I bet even you and Charles have issues.”

Carl Ann said, “What on earth are issues?”

“Anything that creates an obstacle to a couple’s intimacy,” Abby said, looking to me for confirmation, as if I were going to up and tell them, right then and there, what mine and John’s issues were. I did not.

“In counseling they will be able to reach a new level of intimacy,” Abby announced as if she were giving a lecture to her undergraduate students.

“Well, they’re married! My God, how much more intimate can you get than that?” Carl Ann asked.

“Charles and I don’t breathe without each other,” Paula said. “Would that be called intimacy?”

Paula was pretty snippy when she said it. She did not go to college and although she acts like it doesn’t bother her, it does. She is jealous of Abby and her degrees. She secretly hates all that psychology stuff Abby is forever tossing around and thinks she’s a show-off. She is.

“No, that’s called joined at the hip,” Abby said. “You know they have successful surgery for that now. My guess is it’s sex,” she went on, “John has always been over-sexed.”

“Abigail Claire Lewis Rose you do not know that!” I said, hands on hips for emphasis.

That got their attention. We were painting Paula’s kitchen, except Carl Ann who was measuring for new window valances–she owns her own window treatment business and you can never get hold of her because evidently everyone needs their swags and jabots yesterday. Carl Ann is the only one of us who doesn’t live in Highlands (she lives in Atlanta with her surgeon-golf playing husband) and it kills her. She thinks she misses everything. She doesn’t. She’s here every weekend with her girls, Bernice and Lucy. Her husband, Tom, doesn’t mind because he spends his weekend driving up and down the mountains playing golf at one of the millions of courses we have here. My sisters began to circle around me like they did when we were little.

“Really?” Paula asked, looking as though she couldn’t quite picture that one. I mean honestly, even if she is married to the one man on the planet worth being married to for twenty years, sex still can’t be that good. That Sherwin Williams butterscotch yellow that I just love was dripping off her roller brush onto the drop cloth.

“Paula!” I said indignantly.

“Oh, come on now,” Carl Ann said. She was standing on her tip toes on the edge of the kitchen sink trying to measure the top of the window. “What man is not over-sexed, Abby? You could say that about any man on the planet. That is not exactly the psychological diagnosis of the year.”

“Exactly,” I said, looking at Paula, “I’ll bet even Charles wants to have sex all the time.”

Paula rolled her eyes as if to say don’t even get me started on that one, but then Abby jumped in and said, “See, I knew it. It is about sex isn’t it?”

“Oh for heaven’s sake, if you must know, yes it is.”

“Ha!,” Abby said triumphantly, but Paula and Carl Ann just said, “Oh,” evidently pretty disappointed that sex was all it was. I guess they were hoping for something more dramatic because they went back to painting. Mine and John’s issues weren’t that interesting, after all.

Honestly, I wanted to say to Dr. Owens, (but I could not say anything because John was talking) you try being the only female in a house with four males. Men just take up more room than women do and they leave more messes. I told my sisters (who all have girls) when I was pregnant with John Mark, my baby, that I was praying for a girl. I simply did not think could stand to look at one more penis.

Paula wanted to know if I was having any issues or was it all John and his sex life. “Honey,” she said, “Are you happy? Do you have issues?”

Paula can look at you as if she sees all the way through to your heart and there you stand, all exposed and everything. I wanted to cry. But then Paula has seven children (and her twins, Tulla and Mary are my favorites, I admit it) so she doesn’t have time to mess around with the details. When you have seven children you best get straight to the point and quickly, before the next one jumps in and needs something.

I didn’t say anything but I have to admit I am scared to death. I am scared I’m going to mess all this up. I’m scared of what’s happening to John and me. Seems like we never talk anymore and I remember, how we used to talk. We’d sit up all hours of the night talking. We weren’t hurried or walking sick children, or worried about work, or making lists. We told each other everything–things I’ve never even told my sisters.

I made my sisters vote fast on him. I didn’t want him to get away. We met in college in a biology class. He was a botanist getting his graduate degree, and I was in love. I hated biology but I acted like all those protozoa and Petri dishes were just so interesting. When I came into class John would do this grin thing. Without looking up from his desk he would grin when he heard someone say, “Hey Savannah,” but he wouldn’t look up. He just kept working away, head down and grinning. I came unglued whenever I saw him do it. And sex….. well, it was… it was a long time ago.

At night, lying in our king size bed (his idea) I want to wake him up and ask, “Aren’t you scared? Doesn’t it terrify you to think of raising these little boys and getting it right? Do you ever miss us in the middle of all this?”

I looked at the clock. It said 1:45. Dear heaven, what on earth had John been talking about? He hadn’t talked that much since I first met him and then I think he did it to trick me into marrying him because the minute we said I do, his lips went zip.

When John told Dr. Owens about the vote, Dr. Owens leaned way over toward me (I was thinking, good, I guess it is finally my turn to talk), rubbing his chin, and said very seriously, “Tell me about the vote.”

“There isn’t much to tell,” I said, shrugging my shoulders and wondering what this had to do with anything. “When one of my three sisters an myself, has a major life decision, we vote on it. You know, like when Carl Ann, that’s my sister who lives in Atlanta, married Tom, her husband, we all voted on it. It has to be a unanimous vote.”

“So, you voted she should marry him?” Dr. Owens asked.

“Yes, though we did recommend that she wait until June and not April. Recommendations are different than the vote. You can decide not to go with a recommendation, but the vote is absolute, no fudging on it. See, Carl Ann has got that priss in her and she has to have everything just right. We knew she would be happier with the whole wedding planning if she waited until June. But she had it in April and she was a complete basket case trying to get it all together.”

“Has anyone ever not followed the vote?” he asked.

“Just once. Abby. She married her husband, Jimmy, even though it was unanimous that she shouldn’t.”

“How was it unanimous if she married him?”

“You asked if anyone had not followed the vote. Abby voted but then she didn’t follow it.”


Dr. Owens was obviously confused so I explained.

“See Abby is no dummy. She sometimes comes across that way, but don’t let that fool you. She’s smart as a whip, even John will hand you that (John nodded his head yes, here). She knew marrying Jimmy was totally the wrong thing to do. She was just too weak not too and Abby, well, she’s a little rebellious, hates being told what to do, even if she has a partial say in it. And well, we all admit Jimmy is one hunk of burning love–bad marriage material, but good looking as the day is long. There are days, Carl Ann says, she might have turned tail and married him too.”

“Has it turned out all right, Abby’s marriage that is?” Dr. Owens prodded.

John rolled his eyes. He did not want me to get into the subject of Abby and Jimmy. He wanted to get back to our sex life, I presumed. So I kept it short. “No,” I said, “She left him recently, and they have a little girl, Frankie, and we are all absolutely heart sick about it. We had to vote on the divorce too, and, of course, that was unanimous–though we refrained from saying if she had followed the first vote, she wouldn’t be following this one now.”

Dr. Owens sat looking sort of stumped. “Does this vote include smaller decisions?”

“You mean like what couch or dress or something like that to buy?” (I still had my mind on his leather couch.)

He nodded like, okay, yes.

“Oh no, not things like that. I mean we do discuss them. Lord knows we’ll discuss a couch or a dress for a month. So, we voted not to vote on things like that. It takes too long. We want to keep the vote down to an hour.”

“So serious things like marriage you don’t discuss for hours?”

“No, about an hour is all. We can decide on men pretty quick. Children take a little longer, furniture and clothes we gave up on.”

John jumps in at this point to say that the Lewis women (that would be my sisters and I) don’t like men and that’s why we’ll spend days on a couch and thirty minutes on a husband. (Dr. Owens, I noted, did not stop him from interrupting.)

Dr. Owens said, “Is that true?” You and your sisters don’t like men?”

“Oh we like men fine,” I said. “We just don’t particularly need men. There’s a difference.”

“I see,” said Dr. Owens, “why not?”

“Why not what?” I asked.

“Why don’t you need men?”

“Because we have each other,” I said.

Dr. Owens and John exchanged some knowing look. I was beginning to suspect what Abby had said was true.

“Savannah,” she said, “you are going into counseling with a man who wants more sex, to talk about how to get more sex with a man who probably wanted more sex but is now too old to get it. The cards, dear girl, are not stacked in your favor.” Too true.

“How did you come up with the vote?” Dr. Owens wanted to know.

This man was too full of questions. Why did John get to ramble on about what I did or did not do and all I got was a boatload of questions. Anyway, the conversation was getting way too personal.

“My mother only loved Daddy. It was one of those loves you read about in books, you know, all the romantic, gushy stuff. Kids weren’t her thing–more of an unpleasant, and she says, unavoidable outcome of her happy union with my Dad, if you know what I mean. She always said she could get pregnant using Daddy’s toothbrush and from the looks of it, that was true. So, if we had a question about anything, she would say, go figure it our for yourselves, you’re smart girls, you don’t need me. But really, she just didn’t want to be bothered by anyone but Dad. So we did. We figured it out. We voted.”

“So your relationship with your sisters is, like John mentioned, very important to you?”

John turned around to look at me and I gave him the Savannah look, which needs no translating at all. What did these two want from me? Of course, my sisters are important to me. I cannot imagine a world where they are not. The space between us is impenetrable, a sliver of light, a shard of space too small for more than a quick breath of air. Anxiety attacks, Lamaze, marriage, divorce, children, overwhelming work loads, disappointments, memories that bring only pain, breath we whisper to each other, breath and we breath together.

“They’re my sisters,” I said.

Dr. Owens made a couple more notes, and John turned back around and stared out the window. Then Dr. Owens made our next appointment, though truly I can’t see the reason for going. If all John wants is great sex, I can tell him how to get that. As if that’s a big mystery!

Listen up, guys! Be nice. Do not expect her (the wife) to work forty hours a week, come home and cook and clean for five people, do the dishes, bath three little boys, get them in bed (kisses, prayers, monster checks and all), do the laundry, and get three little bags ready for the next day, while you (the husband) sit on your butt surfing channels. If she (the wife) has help, you (the husband) has sex. If she doesn’t, forget it bud. I mean we paid 150 bucks an hour for that it ain’t no big mystery. A nice bed and breakfast for the weekend works wonders too.

I’m just hoping the next session goes better and we actually get to discuss something important. Dr. Owens said we should bring in two lists. One that has ten things we wish we could change in the other person, (good, now maybe Dr. Owens will tell John that he can do dishes and laundry too) and one list with ten things we actually like about the person (I’ll worry about that one later).

Anyway, it wasn’t a total loss. I did find out where Dr. Owens got that great leather couch. His secretary, Francis, told me. (She has a boy at Chapel Hill and one at State. Who do they root for?) Turns out, she picked it out for Dr. Owens (of course) at a store about five minutes from Carl Ann’s house. Road trip!

Abby needs a little break with all she’s been through lately and Paula will be in the car before you can say jackrabbit. Remember the seven kids?

And me, well after this hour and a half (I wonder if insurance will cover the extra 1/2 hour–probably not would be my guess and John will croak when he gets the bill), I’m thinking lunch at the Puffy Muffin and a pedicure.

Paula said to look on the bright side. The session wasn’t a complete waste. How many women get to sit down for one hour, undisturbed? She’d kill for that. Abby and Carl Ann completely agreed. Well, that is true and it got us to thinking, you know maybe we need a spa week-end. Grove Park Inn?

Gentleness: The Fruit of Surrender

In Galatians 5:22, gentleness is listed as one of the 9 characteristics of the Fruit of the Spirit. It is from the Greek word, prautes, and is defined in the NIV Key Word Study Bible as “meek…but not in a man’s outward behavior only, nor in his relations to his fellow men, or his mere dispostion, but in an inwrought grace of the soul expressed primarily toward God. It is that attitude of the spirit by which we accept God’s dealings with us as good and do not dispute or resist.”

Those last two words–dispute and resist–cause me to pause. How much of my life has been spent disputing and how much has been spent resisting? The opposite of resisting is submitting, a word most of us genuinely dislike, whether in regard to other people–submitting to their needs first, or to God. Submission is complete surrender. It is letting go of your right to decide and putting your life into God’s hands. If we summarize this attitude into laymen’s terms, we could say that gentleness is complete surrender to God’s will in our lives. We submit our lives, our wills, our desires, our dreams, and our hopes to God, then we fully accept His will for our lives and live in accordance with it.

Now, if you’re like me, this thought just went through your head, “If I just knew God’s will for my life, I would submit to it.” The fact that many are searching for God’s will in their lives is evidenced by the extraordinary number of Bible studies that explore this very topic. Walk into any Christian bookstore and some variant of “Discovering God’s Will for Your Life” will be among the top ten picks. BUT, we need to back up a step first. Before we begin seeking God’s will in our lives, we need to first submit to God’s will in our lives. If we don’t, we’re only playing games with ourselves and with God. WHAT WE’RE REALLY SAYING IS THIS…YOU TELL ME WHAT YOUR WILL IS AND THEN I’LL TELL YOU IF I’M GOING TO SUBMIT (resist or dispute.)

The NIV commentary goes on to say, “Prautes is the acceptance of God’s dealings with us, considering them as good considering that they enhance the closeness of our relationship with Him.” In other words, God is first seeking a relationship with us, one built on trust and submission, before we get down to any business of what His will is or is not. Let’s be honest: when we say we’re looking for His will, generally we’re either looking for a way out or a way in. We want into, or out of—a marriage, a job, a ministry, a neighborhood, a house. It’s all about solving our immediate problems, but God’s Word says, “Seek me first and all this will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

There should come a time in every believer’s life when we finally understand that God is good and His dealings with us–even when we cannot understand them and they bring us to our knees sobbing–are good. Disputing this with Him assumes your thought processes are either like His or better than His, that your reasoning skills and understanding are like His. Isaiah 55:9 clearly states that His thoughts are higher than our thoughts and His ways are higher than ours. Sometimes you will not understand why He allowed something to happen. You don’t need to understand to submit. You only need to trust.

I learned this lesson through a relationship with a boyfriend. The relationship ended and I kept trying to sort though it and understand what had gone wrong. We were, practically speaking, perfectly suited to one another. While sorting away, I had a thought that I knew came from God. It was simply, “Cinthia, you may never understand this, but even so it is over and it is time to move on.” Sometimes we may not understand, but even so it is time to move on. The day may come when the Lord brings understanding–it is His to give–but until that day, stop disputing and resisting and move on in submission to what the Lord has brought into your life.

These can be scary words. We are all fallible, fearful human beings and do not trust easily. The Lord knows that. Our lives are precious and deserving of our best in living them out. We should not cast our pearls before swine, but instead be cautious in these days when there are so many ways to spend a life. It is only in seeking the Lord and relating to Him and letting Him relate to us through His Word that we can begin to trust Him and submit to Him. So, He designs our circumstances to give us that chance–an opportunity to show us He is faithful. Do we resist Him? Do we dispute Him? Or do we draw near and submit?

Let us yearn to be like Peter, saying, “Lord, to whom else shall we go?” (John 6:68)

People, to whom else shall we go? We look for peace, we ask for joy, we desire understanding and we yearn for purpose. We believe all these things are wrapped up in some mystery called God’s will for our lives and that if we could unravel it, all would be well, not understanding the mystery is in God alone. We find these things not in jobs to be done or questions answered, but in the “attitude of spirit by which we accept God’s dealings with us as good and do not dispute or resist.” We will find it all in complete surrender and gentle submission to our Lord.

Old Woman with Her Butt in the Air = Dog Pose

I glanced in the mirror to see how I looked doing dog pose. Well, let’s just say that Mariel Hemingway can keep her job as poster girl for yoga. But I felt like I was SO IN THE POSE. You know how you’re walking down the street and you’re thinking, wow, I look good today. You’ve got on your adorable, new brown sandals (they are brown in this scenario because I did just buy a cute, new, brown pair–picture to come), and you’re wearing your skinny jeans and then, bam, you see yourself in the window of a building and you’re kinda shocked because, when the heck did you get that old?? Or that fat?? And, then you want to run home? That ever happen to you?

After glancing at myself in the mirror at Cindy’s studio–which, correct me if I’m wrong, but I swear the place is all mirrors–I wanted to crawl under a rock. I know Cindy, my yoga teacher, would say to thank my body for supporting me in the pose, heck, for supporting me period. She’d say to do the pose my body will do. That it isn’t a competition, and so forth. She’s fairly guru about the whole yoga thing–and I’m fairly North Carolina and Southern–but she is sincere, so I stay and try to focus, and try not think about how I look like an old woman with her butt in the air.

The rest of the class didn’t go well. What’d you expect? I’m 52 this year and I am just not getting the hang of getting old.

Anyway, I drove home determined never to do yoga again, never to go to a yoga class again, and to become an old lady who lives in her garden clothes and never cleans the dirt out from under her fingernails (okay so that is actually me already–I was going to embrace me, how’s that?).

But then my dog, Platypus (Platy for short) got up to greet me, doing his dog pose first to get the kinks out. I watched him stretching his front paws out, his butt up in the air, and he looked so happy, and because he’s two feet tall and four feet long, his dog pose is a looooonnnnngggg pose.

So, I kicked off my new brown sandals and did dog pose on my kitchen porch. Here’s what I have to say about dog pose when you’re not glancing in a mirror to see if you’re Mariel Hemingway’s new buddy, DANG I LOVE DOG POSE. It feels so darn good. I pushed up through my arms, stretching my back upward–really getting my butt up there–standing on my tip toes and then, when I had stretched up as far as I could go, I put my heels down. It was amazing. I stayed there for almost five minutes playing with the pose while Platy ran under me, sniffed my nose, licked my ankles and generally went nuts because he wanted petting.

I told him, “Give me a minute Plat dog, I’m doing dog pose, buddy.”

I know if I had glanced in a mirror again I would have seen an old lady with her butt up in the air, but finally, I didn’t care. My body was supporting me and I was treating it with care. I’m getting a little weepy thinking about it so I’ll end here.

Trailer Park Gardening

For some, trailers are a blight on our mountains. When I was a city planner, I attended copious meetings to eradicate trailers, or at least clean them up with underpinning and decks. Often it was my job to go to visit the trailer and recommend (read require) that the owner move it to a less-offensive site or make it a “permanent dwelling” by installing underpinning. There’s something about the transitory aspect of a trailer that’s unsettling to some. They’re not concerned about pipes freezing — it seems to be purely aesthetic. Or, perhaps they fear gypsies?

I don’t know why some folks dislike them, but here’s what I do know about trailers: They’re often permanent dwellings. An obvious sign? When the owners plant gardens.

I’m not talking elaborate, Biltmore-esque lay-outs here. For many trailers, a pot of begonias sits besides the steps. Alberta Spruces seem popular, clustered around the foundation, and peonies and butterfly bushes are a certainty.

One of my favorite single-wide trailers has two gorgeous crepe myrtles that bloom full of deep red bloomsd. In my rounds of trailer parks and trailers, I’ve also seen golden chain trees, scarlet oaks, sugar maples, hibiscus in so many colors, Japanese maples and large vegetable gardens

It’s been almost 20 years since I worked as a planner. It’s been almost 20 years since the hostility toward trailers brought them to my notice and I began a hobby of photographing their gardens. My pictures were my silent acknowledgement of their right to be considered a home, just as the 5,000-square-foot rock foundation house across the street had the right to call itself a home.

I am asked a lot, “What is your favorite garden?” My answer is always the same — and always unexpected — “I love trailer-park gardens.”

Out of all the gardens I see, I appreciate them the most, because to my eyes, they come with the most care. These are simple gardens designed to bring beauty to a small place called home, a word that connotes permanence.

But permanent is not necessarily good anymore, is it? Permanent and carbon footprints go together. So perhaps my favorite garden homes are coming into their own?

My friend, Robin Smith, an environmental scientist, wrote this to me:
“Manufactured housing is actually one of the more ‘green’ options out there, based on the amount of raw materials required to achieve each square foot of living space. No matter how much reclaimed barn wood and bamboo flooring you install, a brand-new, 5,000-square-foot house is not green, unless there are 10 people living there.

Even then, building new is problematic; increased energy efficiency in the house’s operation must be measured against the energy and environmental impact of obtaining and manufacturing new materials and delivering them to the job site. This is not to say that we shouldn’t build “green”, just that there is a whole lot more to the equation than most people realize.”

It’s a simple concept. To Smith’s way of thinking, trailers have about as much space as any of us need in order to live. A single-wide is roughly 700-800 square feet, and a double-wide is, well, double that.

One of my favorite trailer gardens is currently thriving. I drive by it every day. Right now, the peonies are pink and white and stunning, and the rhododendrons are red and glorious. I am looking forward to the butterfly bushes, phlox, liles of a thousand sorts and colors, iris and dahlias I know are to come. I literally have the place memorized. The trailer, that non-permanent dwelling, is long gone. Nothing was ever put in its place.

The elderly couple who lived there all their married life died, and all that remains of their home is its lovely garden. The carbon footprint has vanished — recycled by the family elsewhere — but the flowers and trees remain.