When Anna Pesce was visiting her children in Wagener, SC back in November of 2014, the then 85-year-old grandma, originally from Orangeburg NY, almost collapsed when she tried to climb the stairs.
She felt a terrible ache in her back and needed to be carried up and ended up being confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her visit.
In the past few decades, Pesce had a hunchback posture due to herniated disc, scoliosis, and osteoporosis which makes the bones weak and the spine curved.
The grandma has tried everything from physical therapy and chiropractics to acupuncture. She felt good for some time, but she was back in pain soon.
But, things changed when she decided to do yoga and started working with Rachel Jesien, 28 at the time, and a certified yoga instructor who also struggled with scoliosis and specializes in back care.
The two were introduced by Pesce’s granddaughter, who’s also a yoga teacher.
Yoga Helped Pesce to Straighten Her Back
Jesien came at Pesce’s home once per week and taught her restorative stretches and poses like chair savasana and child’s pose. During these poses, Pesce would lower her legs on a chair while lying on the floor with the knees a bit bent and with a strap around her thighs.
A month within the sessions and Pesce no longer needed the wheelchair. After 2 months, Pesce knew which poses to do when pain would appear.
When she experienced hip pain, she would sit down on a chair and did the ankle-to-knee pose.
Jesien, who received her yoga certification from the Yoga Union center in Chelsea back in 2011, explains that Pesce was shy at first due to the fact that moving was very painful for her.
But, thanks to her ability to learn fast, Pesce is now fully active and continues having weekly sessions of yoga.
Jesien explains that when yoga is being done with the help of a back-care specialist, it can make the bones and muscles stronger and relieve backache triggered by osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, and other conditions which impact elderly.
Jesien discovered back-care yoga back in 2010 after a recommendation she got from a massage therapist. She wore a back brace for 5 years and attended regular physical therapy, but it was back-care yoga which helped her heal.
Yoga Is Great for Painful Back Problems
According to director of integrative pain management at Mount Sinai Hospital, Dr. Houman Danesh, yoga is able to help us alleviate some painful back-related problems.
Weight-bearing exercises like lunges and squats also aid in the increase of bone density. And, physical therapists have been adding yoga stretches to their sessions.
Pesce says she feels amazing because she can drive by herself and do the things she wasn’t able to do before. Despite the fact that many elderly may fear yoga, it’s worth working with a certified back-care yoga instructor and one-on-one sessions.
What Does the Family Say?
According to Rosemary, Pesce’s daughter, there’s definitely a change in her mom’s behaviour. She’s now more independent and happier and brighter. Daily, Pesce performs a series of poses, from pranayama breathing exercises to downward dogs using a sling for support.
Jesien claims that Anna is a ‘tough cookie’ and prior to working together, the lady was so down about her problem, but now, she has a totally different outlook and feels more positive.