Fitness After 50: Escape from Death Valley – Part 2 – Yoga

vickimorgannewphotoBy Vicki Morgan

Are you in Death Valley? It’s a harsh question, but I promise you, it’s what we need to ask ourselves before it’s too late.

To me, trying to stay healthy is a real battle. The poison in our soil, our food, our air and our water, our lotions and drugs are attacking the healthy microbiomes in our bodies. Frankly, I’m exhausted by the whole dang thing.

Fortunately, there are some seniors who are fighting the good fight and winning. In last month’s column, I promised to pummel you with stories and photos of those incredible seniors.

I hope they inspire you as much as they inspire me. They’ve literally beat the odds and escaped from Death Valley. Let’s join them and take the next train out of Death Valley together, shall we?

Anna: Saved by yoga
Yoga has existed for centuries and its benefits are well known. Some of my Christian friends don’t approve of yoga because they say it goes against their religious beliefs. I believe that you can perform yoga-like stretches without doing the “Sun Salutations” and “Namaste’s.” I also believe that if you are indeed a Christian, no stretching technique is going to “open you up to evil forces.” You are, according the Bible, a temple of the Living God and nothing else can take up residence within you. I am happy to debate you about this at

With that said, I want you to meet 86 year-old Anna Pesce. Anna had been diagnosed with kyphosis, a painful condition that left her in an extreme hunchback position, with an onset of scoliosis and osteoporosis to boot. Anna had become depressed and dejected over the years, because nothing she tried could soothe her ailment.

Yoga came to Anna’s rescue when she was 86 years old. That’s right – 86 years old. She chose Rachel Jesien, a fellow scoliosis victim and spinal expert, to train her. Rachel had discovered spine restoration yoga after failing to get results from physical therapy. She also had to wear a back brace for over five years, and tried everything she could to get out of it.

Anna and Rachel made a pact to meet once a week and practice back restoration yoga. Rachel came to Anna’s home and taught her restorative poses and stretches like Child’s Pose.

After one month, Pesce was able to walk again. In two months, she had come to a place where she could address a particular pain with a particular yoga position. For instance, when her hip pain would flare up, she would do the ankle-to-knee-pose. Rachel remembers when Anna first came to her. Anna was very distressed about her hopeless physical condition. Today, according to Anna’s daughter Rosemary, she has become self-sufficient and is the happiest she has ever been.

Some people don’t believe Anna’s story. says that they are unable to prove it. Dr. Nick Shamie, a spine surgeon and professor of orthopedic surgery and neurosurgery at the University of California at Los Angeles, told Snopes that while practicing yoga has likely been good for Pesce’s overall health, he can’t credit it with healing her back. Dr. Shamie practices yoga himself, but stressed that while he generally considers it beneficial, people with back pain need to see a medical doctor before jumping into an exercise regimen.

Vicki Morgan A.C.E. is a Senior Strength Trainer at Flex Gym & Fitness. You can reach her at or call 719-445-8566. Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program. If you experience pain or difficulty, stop and consult your healthcare provider. This article is not meant to take the place of any treatment or activity your physician has deemed necessary.

One comment

  • I am 70 years old and have been going to Curves fitness for women 3 times a week for about 4 years. I have much more balance, endurance and over all strength than many women I know that are 20 years my junior. The circuit is unique and the benefits are amazing. It would be nice to share this information with other women with Fitness Over 50. The Curves I go to is at 1817 N. Union Blvd.


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