When Anna Pesce was visiting her children in Wagener, SC, in November 2014, the then-85-year-old Orangeburg, NY, native almost collapsed trying to climb a set of stairs.
“I had this horrible pain shooting up my back,” Pesce tells The Post. “I had to be carried up the stairs and put into a wheelchair for the rest of my stay.”
For the past few decades, Pesce suffered from hunchbacklike posture — the result of a herniated disc, scoliosis and osteoporosis, which weakens the bones and can lead to curvature of the spine.
“I tried everything: acupuncture, a physical therapist and seeing a chiropractor,” Pesce adds. “You feel good temporarily, but [I’d be] in pain again soon after.”
Three months after her South Carolina visit, she began working with certified yoga instructor Rachel Jesien, 28, who also suffers from scoliosis — a curvature in the spine that usually develops during puberty — and specializes in back care. Pesce’s granddaughter, also a yoga teacher, introduced the two.
Jesien visited Pesce in her home once a week, teaching her restorative poses and stretches such as child’s pose and chair savasana, in which Pesce would rest her lower legs on a chair while lying on the floor with her knees slightly bent and a strap around her thighs. After one month of sessions, Pesce was able to walk again.
“After two months, another big milestone was that [Pesce] knew what poses to do whenever the usual pains would come up for her,” Jesien says. “For example, if she was having hip pain, she’d sit on a chair and do an ankle-to-knee pose.”