Book Report

Blessings Beyond Bypass: Tender Medicine for Hard Times

A conversation with Author Rachel Allen


Do you have a favorite blessing? Maybe many of you say a blessing before your meal? Do you say, “God bless you!” when someone sneezes? Have you had your house blessed or your pet blessed?

Blessings abound in our lives, and Rachel Allen has written a new chapbook Blessings Beyond Bypass: Tender Medicine for Hard Timeswhich adds to the available blessing for spirituality and activism. The title Blessings Beyond Bypass gives the reader a deep look at the meaning of this small yet powerful book. In sum, it is about divine reconnection.

Johnstown Magazine: How did the pandemic inspire this book?

Rachel Allen:  I think it affected healthcare workers and teachers in and the challenges that people faced. From the loss of employment to loss of life and loved ones, just the world turning upside down. People were trying to find an anchor.

 JM: You embody music, movement, and lyric, so I just like you to respond to that can you say when did you start playing music? You are a drummer and a harpist, right?

RA: Oh gosh I think always sang as a child. I sang and played instruments in high school; music has always been part of my life.

JM: And when did you start doing yoga?

RA: I'm 55 and I started doing yoga in my 20s. I started with a more physical practice and my practice has changed a lot and my understanding of the practices changed a lot so it's always evolving and growing.  The type of yoga that I teach comes from the school KRIPALU and that's the yoga of consciousness, so it's inviting people in their own practice. I practice with people. I don't necessarily think of what I do as teaching so much as co-creating a space for people to tap into living from the inside out.

JM:  When did you start writing?

RA:  I remember writing as a girl a young girl. I started blogging in 2014, and it was a real trendy thing to do but it was a good exploration of finding my voice believing I had something to say. As a blogger, it wasn't necessarily I had the desire to communicate things that felt important to say. So when I started blogging, and I had a lot of people, some of them my yoga students, but just to having a response to that like “Wow, this is it this is something unique that I'm hearing in your voice.”

JM: Let's talk a little bit about the title of the book Bessing Beyond Bypass. Tell me what this title means to you.

RA: One of the things that I have found challenging in many practices of wellness, such as yoga, is that there's this unspoken requirement that people show up and then have their “Zen” on. And that you come to the practice to check out rather than check in and that you know that good vibes are welcome to the space.  I feel like that is harmful-- that there's a full range of feelings and emotions that are part of the human experience. We can learn the word emotion and learn to work with emotions and have them to gain an understanding of them observe them rather than hide from them and pretend they don't exist.  That's sort of how the word bypass is used in a lot of the communities and by teacher, and some of the other teachers that are teaching us that are guiding us to be able to show up and recognize challenging feelings.  I encourage people to make space for feelings as well as for compassion and feeling vulnerability. I found that I was unable to face going into a teaching a class after yet another mass shooting or after George Floyd was murdered. It was just like I felt like being silent in the face of those types of things was not helpful. We're not here to sit in pain you know, but we're not here to turn away from it either.

Read the entire interview with Rachel Allen in the May 2023 printed edition of Johnstown Magazine.  


Blessings Beyond Bypass: Tender Medicine for Hard Time is a must-have resource for yoga teachers, wellness leaders, mindfulness coaches, spiritual guides, and social justice activists for use in classrooms and at events and retreats.  Rachel’s writing has been featured in Hags on FireNorthern Appalachia Review, and Long Shot Books. She is a contributing member of the international blog, Christians Practicing Yoga. The book can be purchased at Classic Elements in downtown Johnstown or ordered online from Seed House Press

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