Yancy Scot Schwartz took his first class in the Dominican Republic while on a skate tour. He initially loved yoga solely because it improved his skateboarding. In 2008, at the encouragement of the owner, Yancy attended the Yoga to the People 200 hour Teacher Certification. He was then sent out to open and build Yoga to the People in San Francisco in 2009. In 2011 he moved back to New York where he met Sri Dharma Mittra. He completed the 500 hour Life of a Yogi Teacher training in 2013. Later in the year he attended the 50 hour Rocket Certification at Asta Yoga in San Francisco.
Yancy’s personal practice includes meditation and pranayama 5 days a week. He also regularly attends classes at the studios he teaches at, or from renown teachers in the L.A. area.
Yancy hopes that through the yoga practices and techniques you will not be bound by the body or the mind.
“You are not your body, you are not your mind.” -Sri Dharma Mittra
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This episode was brought to you by Sober Nation
Here are Yancy’s SHAIR Podcast interview highlights:
Omar: Yancy, tell us a little bit about what’s going on in your life today, your hobbies, exercise. Take us into your normal daily routine, including recovery.
Yancy: My normal routine … I wake up, have a little bit of coffee … A little bit, not too much. I look at social media, like a couple of things, get that little bit of coffee in me. I do a meditative practice for about thirty, forty five minutes, which involves breathing exercises, chanting, and all sitting in a – if you understand, if you’re a yogi – lotus position, which … It’s pretty intense. Once you get used to it, it’s pretty good.
After that, I go teach a class. I get on my little scooter, go by the beach, teach some yoga classes at the studios. In between classes, I’m either skating or messing around doing yoga on the beach. There’s a skate park over there. I teach my last class and then I might take a class and then I bail and go back to Hollywood on the little scooter, go home, eat dinner. That’s it. Simple.
Omar: It sounds very simple. Now, how do you maintain your recovery program? Do you have a recovery program? Do you hit meetings? I mean, how is that integrated into your life?
Yancy: I think my recovery is doing my meditations and my pranayama … Man, I got hit hard when I was dabbling with stuff. Yeah, I stopped pretty cold, but there’s always a little relapse here and there or not knowing, I suppose, what to do or how to do it. I was slow … I got off hard drugs. I was still drinking here and there and so that took a little while. After I got the yoga … Yoga is my recovery program. Just going to yoga. That’s it.
Omar: Well, I’ll tell you one thing is for sure, when you’re doing thirty to forty five minutes of meditation in lotus position every day, that’s pretty intense.
Yancy: Yeah. Now, it’s pretty normal.
Omar: I was just thinking about being in lotus position. First of all, I can’t get into lotus position and then, even sitting with my legs crossed for more than five minutes becomes so, so uncomfortable. My wife’s a yoga instructor. I get to watch her bend and fold and she makes it look so effortless. I commend you …
Yancy: Well, it took me three years of just sitting half lotus. Three years, man. Three years to sit in full lotus comfortable. Well, three years, so I’ve been sitting in lotus for three years to be very comfortable.
Omar: Well, that’s a testament to dedication, to patience. It comes when it comes. You just keep plugging away and plugging away and moving forward. You stay vigilant until it finally happens. That’s a lot of what my wife tells me, too. She’s just like, “Look, it doesn’t matter how far you get. You’re going to get a little bit further every day and your body will tell you. It’ll help you along.” I should probably do a little bit more of it, but I don’t. I watch her do it and I could see how much she loves it.
Omar: All right, so tell us when is your anniversary date and how long you have clean?
Yancy: I have clean … Man, it’s been so long.
Omar: Good. Awesome.
Yancy: It’s been a long time. I would say … What year was the Northridge … Do you remember that earthquake?
Omar: That earthquake in Northridge? Dude. I mean, that’s a long time.
Omar: Man, maybe … Is that over twenty years?
Yancy: At Northridge, I was out of my mind crazy. A little bit after Northridge maybe … Whatever that time is. Probably, I’d say, nineteen years clean … Well, there’s some relapses. There was some drinking, but hard drugs? Clean. Nineteen years pretty Sobi-Wan Kenobi.
Omar: Well, it says here Northridge earthquake was in 1994.
Yancy: I’d say I was clean about ’95. Before that … I grew up skateboarding in New York City, so there was a lot of corruption and I got roped in. It was out of control.
Omar: Oh, man. Well, let’s jump into your story, man. It sounds like we’re already getting started there. Before we jump into your story, tell us about the first time you drank. Well, actually, how old you were the first time you drank or used drugs and more importantly, how did they make you feel?
Yancy: Well, I was probably about thirteen years old. I was skating with my friends and they busted out a joint, these older kids. I just kind of smoked out in the back alleys in their neighborhood, a couple neighborhoods in Queens, New York. How did it made me feel? Man, I was so high … I was like, “Wow, I can just fly.” Skating? Forget it … I think I was so crazy and high, I tried to do this rail. It was the first time being high and I tried it. I smacked my head. My head was bleeding and it didn’t even matter. That’s how gnarly. I kept skating. I just kept skating … You know?
Yancy: From there on, I was like, “Okay …” Whoever had a joint … Thirteen years old.
Omar: You were Superman.
Yancy: Yeah, Superman. Thirteen years old, Superman skateboard.
Omar: Do you have any books that you would recommend to newcomers? We have a lot of people that listen to this early in recovery and they’re always looking for new, “What am I going to do with my life now? Now that I’m not doing drugs and partying like a rock star and going to raves and killing myself …”
Yancy: I would recommend … Game changer for me is just very inspirational. There’s a movie about it, but the movie is not that great: “Autobiography of a Yogi” … Game changer.
Omar: Really? Man, that’s a first. I love it. Okay, good. New material. There’s a movie, too. Not as good, but …
Yancy: The movie? I wouldn’t even bother with it. Get the book, man, because the movie … It’s such a broad stroke as opposed to the book is this … It was a game changer for me. It just got me charged mentally, inspirational kind of book. Yeah.
Omar: Okay. What’s it called again?
Yancy: “Autobiography of a Yogi”.
Autobiography of a Yogi (Self-Realization Fellowship) – Paramahansa Yogananda
Omar: “Autobiography of a Yogi“. Okay, excellent. What is the best suggestion you have ever received?
Yancy: The best suggestion that I’ve ever received … This might come across a little bit non-yogic, but … This one girlfriend at the time, she was really smart, a really quick-witted girl … She always told me, “Never suffer fools kindly.” I went, “Wow, that’s pretty harsh.”
I guess, in hindsight looking back at that and what I know now, what she meant was once you get to know yourself … If you can see yourself, then you can see others. You can see yourself in others. I’m not saying that people are bad people … Everybody’s got a spark of divine or good in them.
Yancy: What she’s saying is like, “Okay, you might have been in this place, but maybe I got to stay away from this person.” I’m not going to go hang out with a bunch of heroin addicts and weed people. I’m going to hang out with some yogis, right?
Yancy: Or if somebody crazed out of their mind comes up to me, I’m going to figure out a way. I’m not going to give them my attention. That was … Good advice or good suggestion. Never suffer fools kindly, meaning I know myself and now I can use my discrimination and know who other people are, even if there is a spark of good in them, which everybody does have a spark.
This right now is a cloud and I can’t … They’re not ready to hear or see me or whatever it is. I might put myself in harm or my family in harm, so I got to stay away … You know I’m not an idiot. I’m not going to walk down in the Bronx or Harlem with some flashy thing. I’m smart. I’m not going to go up to some crazy seedy area. Just never suffer fools kindly … I guess that would be it. Yeah.
Omar: That’s a beautiful, beautiful suggestion. It’s something that we discuss a lot in recovery especially in reference to setting proper limits and boundaries, knowing who you are and knowing what you want to attract into your life and being conscious and mindful of your surroundings at all times.
I’m very conscious of the people that I spend time with. Are they contributing to my energy? Am I contributing to theirs or are they taking my energy? I’m very, very conscious of that myself, so that’s a beautiful suggestion.
Omar: If you could give our newcomers only one suggestion, what would you give them?
Yancy: Well, I would say, especially people that are recovering, patience and perseverance, determination, a little bit of angry determination. Patience and perseverance and a little bit of angry determination … There’s two sides of the coin. There’s a lot of dark stuff out there and there’s a lot of good stuff out there. In each one, I have to strive. Sometimes you have to be a little bit of forceful and strive towards to get to the better side. You come to a point where you realize, good or bad, it’s just is what it is and you’re in a nice, neutral place.
SUGGESTIONS FOR THE NEWCOMER!
“Patience and perseverance and a little bit of angry determination.”
Thanks again for your SHAIR, Yancy!
See you then!
Disclaimer – The opinions shared on this show reflect those of the individual speaker and not of any 12 step fellowship as a whole and though we discuss 12 step recovery and the impact it has had in our lives we do not promote or endorse any 12 step anonymous program.