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Guest column by Rebecca Brachmann

Joy. It’s out there for sure. You see it and feel it in clichéd experiences like wedding days, mothers looking at newborn babes, and love blooming. But how often do we tap into this emotion in our daily lives? The answer, for most of us is not nearly enough. Anya Porter, the dynamo behind Breakti, is campaigning on the platform of more joy for all. She’s got my vote.

On Sunday I attended a Breakti workshop led by Anya at Evolation Yoga in Tampa. If you’re a yogi who can be described as a 70s baby, early-80s child you’ll appreciate this melding of the Sanskrit word for devotion “Bakhti” with breakdance.

Anya and The Crew at Evolation Yoga in Tampa

The serious pursuit of a career in hip-hop dance and breaking led Porter to NYC, where a steady diet of dancing and waitressing started to trouble her body (no surprise here). Like other starving artists before her, she hoped yoga would be all the medical attention she would need.  At first, she thought yoga was boring. Then she found more athletic practices that included arm balances and inversions that spoke better to her dance-self. The joy of dance rose up and began to plant a seed in Anya’s heart and mind. From this seed, Breakti grew.

On Sunday, we reversed the role, opening our yoga selves up to dance. We played, danced, got hella upside down, and came face to face with our fears. Fears that plague almost every adult I know: fears about looking silly, stupid, or weak; fear of not being “good” enough to step out of our comfort zones (where, often, real joy is hiding), fear of pursuing something challenging (and potentially joyful).

Given permission, and inspired by Anya, we faced these fears with confidence and a spirit of adventure. In two hours, Anya reminded me that finding more joy in our lives isn’t about falling in love, or having a baby, or any other clichéd situation — it’s about what we cultivate. Joy doesn’t live in a scenario, it lives in us — we just have to have the guts to let it out.

Breakdance, Anya’s primary source of joy, has also been a source of fear and self-doubt for her. But she knows that breaking through that fear and letting yourself have the fun you want is where joy can be the purest.

To close the class, Anya offered this powerful directive: whatever your practice is — be it yoga, breaking, ballet, piano, activism, or knitting — it must be something that serves you by challenging the lens through which you see yourself, the world, and yourself in the world. It is that challenge that allows you to break through fear and break into joy… pun intended.


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