YANCY SCOT SCHWARTZ
PRO-SKATER . VEGAN . DHARMA JUNKIE . YOGI
Where is home now? Hollywood, CA.
What's your story? I was born in Queens, NY. My dad was from Brooklyn, my mom was from Ecuador, South America. Since she wasn't from this country, my mom ended up babysitting kids, and my dad was a maintenance man - a grease monkey. He was a masterful electrician. We had our apartment for free so my parents were able to save some money. They rented out the spare room so growing up I had a lot of kids and strangers in and out of the apartment. My dad was very mellow, super quiet. My mom was very strict and her discipline could be very physical. At a young age I got interested in skateboarding and that ruled my life. It was eat, sleep, skate back then.
How would you describe yourself? Pretty carefree, go lucky - but at times somewhat stifled, and that's where the yoga comes into play. Or I'll have a good session skating and let out that energy to calm myself down.
How would others describe you? People might think what I do is painful, out of the ordinary, a bit crazy.
How would your mother describe you? Perfect. The best.
We've all got a few stories that we aren't the most proud of, care to share one? When I was 17 I wanted to run away from home. My mom had gone back to South America so I ran away to California with a drug addicted girl and stayed there for a year or so. I told my dad I would be gone for a week and didn't come back for over a year.
What's the best and worst job you've ever had? Best job is definitely teaching yoga. I get to do all these fun, crazy yoga poses and teach others how to do them, and share a life-altering practice. Worst job: working in a plumbing warehouse in the worst area of the Bronx. I was a little out of control at the time and my mom made me work with my uncle. It was backbreaking work and the middle of winter so the warehouse was freezing cold. I worked alongside criminals and crack addicts.
What’s the best and worst relationship you ever had? Skateboarding. It's gratifying, it's an elite community, but it's an unforgiving art. I've broken bones, had surgeries. It's a risky way of life.
Favorite meal: Acai bowls. Works for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Can be a dessert as well. Superfood.
Favorite drink: Morning mocha.
What is one fact that most other people wouldn't know about you? I am in the movie Kids. Grew up skating with them.
If you could do it all again, what would you change? Nothing.
Any regrets? None.
How did you get into yoga? During my first trip to California I saw a yogi - I didn't know that's what he was at the time - I basically saw this guy stretching. I remember thinking 'if I stretch like him maybe my muscles wouldn't get sore and I'd be able to skate for longer'. Then I met a girl and she became a yoga instructor. At the time, I was in New York and she was in California. I said I would visit her and take her yoga class. I didn't really want to take her class but I'd already told her that I would. She taught me some basics and then I took the class with that new sense of understanding and I liked it. I haven't stopped since.
Do you Teach? Yes, what's that like? It's like opening sacred doors. I try to follow the Eightfold Path [Buddhist ethical principals], and I feel with teaching I can help people unlock each of these eight doors.
What was the biggest challenge when you first started? My ego. Letting it go in order to do the class was very challenging. The poses were hard and it was a blow to my ego. I had to learn to let that part go and keep practicing, with no expectations.
Why do you keep coming back? At first I didn't know, it just felt good. Now, it's become a path; my dharma. Dharma is your calling, what you are meant to do. My path is to share the science and techniques of yoga.
Best yoga story? Doing yoga in the White Sands Desert with my wife. It was otherworldly. We moved from New York and drove across the country. My wife wanted to go to the Desert so we stopped along the way. When we got there it was as quiet as meditation, and It looked like we were on another planet. We could hear the Om everywhere.
Most embarrassing one? My first pair of hotpant shorts. It was like the end of the world. My heart was racing. After that, best decision I ever made.
What is the biggest challenge of being a guy who teaches/practices yoga? People expect you to be strong all the time I suppose - both emotionally and physically. Sometimes you just need a restorative or yin class. Sometimes I want to throw my hands up in the air and give up. But I must go on.
What is your favorite pose? Handstand scorpion, because it's a perfect balance of strength and flexibility. Like yoga, creating balance, it's a powerful pose.
What pose do you fucking hate? Foot behind the head, because it takes a lot of abdominal strength and it's an intense pose for me. It's getting easier but I haven't mastered it yet.
Yoga is... a science and technique. It is a way to have mastery over your body, mind, breath and senses. A place in which you can leave your body by itself and your mind by itself. It offers self realization on another level.
Favourite quote? "When you can control your mouth, what goes into it, what comes out of it, then you have already mastered much of your mind,"- Sri Dharma Mittra
Your mantra? Om Nama Shivaya.
Interviewed: July 24th, 2015
Photos by @michaeljameswong and property of BOYS OF YOGA Ltd.