Part science, part art, the subject of public fascination and endless trends, to really define skateboarding or yoga culture as any one thing could only diminish their endlessly playful & creative possibilities. Our lifestyle dispatch out of LA, Christine Dionese caught up with native New Yorker & pro-skater turned yogi, Yancy Scot Schwartz to decode his interpretation of where sub-culture & mind-body practice meet.
Sidewalk Hustle: What are you listening to right now?
Yancy Scot Schwartz: Right now I’m listening to Father John Misty’s Hollywood Forever Cemetery. I live right by there, just love the vibe of the song. It’s a little dark and folky, just what I like.
Sidewalk Hustle: How we mindfully attend to our daily lives is as important as the activities we fill it with — how does your work mirror this attitude?
YSS: Well my work is to figure out yoga and to do it, to live it. In doing so it helps me stay balanced and calm so my mental attitude is calm for the most part, which is better for those around me.
SH: SLAY.. Talk about taming the ego through skating & yoga.
YSS: For me it was skating first. Breaking a bone or getting knocked out will humble you for sure. No matter how good you are, we all fall. In yoga you have to be vulnerable. If it’s your ego that’s driving you, eventually you will get hurt as well. Yoga and skating are two of my best teachers.
SH: Venice Beach is the perfect mix of skate & sand. You must meet a ton of people skating the Venice skate park, is it your fave SoCal spot?
YSS: Love Venice skatepark! Yes the beach is right there, the boardwalk has good energy, and it’s convenient for me cause I can go there between classes. The graffiti walls used to be a classic skate spot that was my favorite growing up and taking trips to Cali. The new park is a little weird- it’s good, but it gets hectic. When you get hot you can just jump in the ocean!
SH: You were in the NYC-based, cult classic Kids- a film that portrayed a very raw urban vibe for the time. Was that reflective of your everyday life and was there any foreshadowing to where you are now?
YSS: Yes, it totally reflected my daily life because the movie was just me and all my friends hanging out and skating. What was cool was that Harmony and Larry wanted to put everyone they knew in it. All the mischief that revolved around skating that was a part of our everyday life. The only thing that made the movie unrealistic was that there was a storyline behind it. I had a quick, small part in the movie, barely anything. The role was me eating an apple sticking my head out the window. And foreshadowing, yes because I was the healthiest person in the movie and now I live a healthy, vegan life).
SH: How does being from New York influence your lifestyle in CA or how does your lifestyle in CA now influence the way you interact with your NYC roots?
YSS: Each place that I’ve lived has a vibe- New York is such a hustling, strong, fast paced vibe whereas California is slower paced. Being in California has helped me slow down, but I still have my quick New York tactics, I can get what I need to get done, done. When I go back to New York, I know how to slow it down so I don’t get burnt out. I’m keeping the Cali mellow and my New York hustle.
SH: Comment on how physics, skating, yoga and freedom relate.
YSS: I don’t know much about physics, but I do know yoga and skating and I guess that would be in the realm of quantum physics. In yoga and skating you have to be absolutely present in which you can stretch time, go beyond form, and accomplish amazing things. It’s very magical, and in that, there is a lot of freedom. Because in society and paradigms there are a lot of rules, which is good, once you’ve figured out all those rules you can figure out ways to go beyond those rules, bend them and there are endless possibilities. You figure out a way to break any boundaries or go beyond any paradigms by understanding them.
SH: What does the skating community think of your yogi lifestyle or how does the skating community embrace you as a yogi- have you introduced a lot of skater friends to the yoga community?
YSS: The skating community is pretty accepting. If anything, I am a little shy about it. If you look around, a lot of skaters are stretching anyways, so yoga is something that is already innate in a skater. The looser you are the better for skating, if you look stiff on your board it’s going to suck. I’ve introduced some of my close friends to yoga and it was my best friend, a great skater, who first told me to go to yoga.
SH: Are you approached by a lot of sponsors? How do you karmically balance corporate influence?
YSS: If something doesn’t vibe out with me I don’t rock it.
SH: Favorite quote decoded- “When you can control your mouth, what you put into it and what comes out of it, you’ve already mastered much of your mind,” – Sri Dharma Mittra
YSS: Most people try to give you their two cents, and they are wasting their time. Because unless you ask for someone’s opinion, they are speaking on dead ears. You lose a lot of energy through your mouth. As an austerity, controlling what you put in your mouth. Your mouth is close to your brain, so are your eyes and ears. It’s a pratayahara, sense control. Control your senses, control your mind.
SH: Who are the most supreme skaters doing good, doing fun, doing interesting lifestyle-design-wise that you’re friends with or look up to?
YSS: Yaje Popson- an up-and-coming skater for Alien Workshop. He’s a yogi. Chris Cole is doing good out there, he’s incredible. He’s doing good things for young kids in skating, sending them to camp, giving underprivileged kids a chance. My good friend Billy Rohan, he’s just an amazing individual. He’s been a big influence in my life.
SH: Why do you think it’s so important to the youth of today still to hold onto or see skateboarding as a subculture?
YSS: Skateboarding will always be a subculture no matter how corporate or mainstream it becomes. It’s important to hold onto it as a subculture so that it has authentic roots. The act of skateboarding is individual. It’s an art, everyone is going to manifest their own expression of it.
Yancy lives, skates and yogas throughout Los Angeles. Catch him skating the Venice Beach skatepark or attend one of his famous yoga-sweat seshs & tell him Sidewalk Hustle sent you to say hello. Until then, find him here.
Photos captured by the multi-talented dj & photographer Mr. Doug Barr.