Episode 93: Julia Tindall: Awakening Heart Consciousness
Julia Tindall awakens heart consciousness with a unique blend of hatha, jnana and tantra yogas. Join Julia and I for a lively discussion about transforming sexual shame for men and women; the dance of masculine and feminine and how to use these polarities to spice up your love life; the importance of spirutal community in today's isolated world; and, the nature of true intimacy. And don't miss Julia's terrific exercise for you to try at home.
Chip August: Welcome to Sex, Love and Intimacy. I’m your host Chip August, and today on the show I’m talking to Julia Tindall. And Julia is a tantra teacher and a Yoga instructor and leads tours and Yoga vacations to various places around the world and just a very fascinating healer, educator, teacher, has a lot to say about love and intimacy. So welcome to the show Julia.
Julia Tindall: Thanks Chip. It’s wonderful to be here with you, and I’m looking forward to a lively conversation today.
Chip August: Yeah, me too. Now Julia, as you can tell from her voice, hails from England. She moved to the US in 1989. She lives in Sacramento, or Sacramento area, and she teaches Yoga classes and workshops at the Shakti Temple. She’s, she’s been through, like the rest of us, lifetimes, you know, and… But back in the 90’s she led her first retreat weekend in 1992 to Lake Tahoe and her first Yoga vacation in 1994 to Puerto Villarta, and since then she’s become one of the most prolific retreat leaders in the country, offering a student of Yoga or tantra a wide variety of week long and weekend events in beautiful places all around the world. Julia expanded her personal Yoga practice beyond Hathi Yoga and has become passionate about Yana Yoga. It was this self-inquiry that helped her pull her own life back together, and she’s been running Yana Yoga groups since 1999 and has developed her own systematic approach to the subject. She’s influenced by Gonga G and Leslie Temple Thurston and has written her own book on Yana Yoga, Twenty Questions For Enlightened Living, and she has a Yana Yoga teacher training program. So she’s the, she’s the real deal, and we’re going to be talking a little bit about all this. So before we started you said something about, “Well I, let me tell people what I do and let me tell people about tantra”, and that might be a great place to start. Would you just talk a little bit about what you do and what’s tantra and what’s Yoga?
Julia Tindall: Absolutely, I’d love to. Well, you know, what I’m seeing for people right now is that we’re at a time in our evolution where it’s getting really important for us to integrate all of our parts, and that’s actually what tantra means. Tantra is a sanscript word as you said earlier that means weaving. And it means weaving all of our parts together into one harmonious whole. And so for me and my own personal path of development, I started out very much with my physical body and I did Yoga and Thai Chi, and I learned to become aware in my body and found out where I was stuck and where I needed to put awareness, and that was very, that was a very valuable thing for me. But then I realize I needed to do more than that, I needed to look at my belief systems, what my mind was doing to me, my pattening and my conditioning. And so that’s why I studied Yana Yoga, which is a system of self-inquiry, very, very valuable work too, but even that wasn’t enough for me. I realized that there were parts of me that were still stuck and it was to do with my sexuality and my experience of energy in the body, and that’s when I discovered tantra. And I found that working with, I worked with Margo Anondarich and she’s a fabulous teacher as many people know. And through my studies with Margo and other people, I’ve learned to run energy through my body, and also to discover where this blocks, and through my own practice I’ve come up with some really great techniques for sharing with other people to help them unblock themselves, and I’ve found that that’s really incredibly valuable, ‘cause a lot of people don’t, first of all they don’t really know where they’re stuck, they just know that they’re not getting the full experience of the way their lives could be. So that’s been my passion. I call myself the shadow queen in a way, because I just absolutely love helping people, discover what inside them needs the light shining upon it. And by that I mean it could be things like you’ve had some repressed shame, guilt, fears, things like that, from you past that have literally caused your body to arm or contract, and that stops you from feeling the full pleasure that you’re capable of.
Chip August: So my experience is most people would think that’s a psychological problem, would go seek a counselor somewhere and, you know, talk about their problems and talk about their mother and talk about their father and talk about, you know, and at some point in that therapeutic process would somehow un-armor. You seem to take a very different approach to this. You’re not a psychologist or a psychiatrist. So how does one like teach ones body to stop feeling shame? I mean how do you, you know, how do you use the kinds of techniques you’re talking about to let go of shame?
Julia Tindall: Well I’m a great believer in group process and group energy, because I think we can move through stuff far, far quicker when we do it as a group. So yes, of course you can do all these things with a therapist, that’s a great way to go. But for a lot of people they don’t have the money to do that, it’s very expensive, and they don’t have the time. I think nowadays we’re on a speeded up track and we really need to get clear as quickly as possible of all the past that’s holding us back. So what I do with my groups is we will, for example, take the women in one area, the men in another, and we’ll just literally share what’s gone on for us in the past. And, I’m just giving an example of one way I do it, but I find that by just simply sharing, and actually for some people telling secrets that they’d never told a soul, is incredibly healing. And as we hear each other, our memories get charged and we go, “Oh yeah, I had that too. And I had that. Oh my gosh, I can resonate with this piece that this person has”, and so in a way we all heal together as we share. And then what I really think is a powerful piece is to once you’ve really undiscovered for yourself areas where you were holding things like shame or guilt, to do some kind of a ritual around releasing. I have a hypnotherapy training, and what I’ve found is that most of us stuff our painful past into our cellular memory. And so there needs to be a way to clear that out, and so what I do is use the tantric keys of breath, sound and movement to have everybody as a group breath and move and yell and whatever we need to do to release this stuff from our cellular memory, and it’s kind of fun if you can have a bonfire or at least light a candle and give it to the flames. Something like that is very powerful. Give it all to the flames, let if burn up, release all this stuff and then notice if you feel clearer and if something has let go. And I have found three years of doing this work that people report huge, huge changes in actually even the way they feel in their physical body, they might find that their hips for example open up, because we store a lot of shame in our hips, and also of course their sex life tends to improve because they’ve let go of a lot of the armoring in the genital area, and that’s absolutely huge for so many people.
Chip August: Oh, that was just so much. That was, you know, so content rich. Okay, so first, the whole idea of cellular memory is a little challenging for a lot of us, you know. Many of us think of memory is a mind function and it’s not. So what do you mean by cellular memory?
Julia Tindall: Well there’s a little saying, “The issue is in the tissue”. So for example lets say, well I’ll give an example from my own life. Lets say when I was 19 I had a man tell me that I was frigid. And looking back I would just say he was a very lazy lover and, you know, nothing much happened for me, so he decided to blame me, call me frigid, and that hurt, and that little arrow of poisoned word went into my system, and if I trace it, if I go back and I say, “Where did it land?”, I would say it landed in my genital area and it also landed in my heart. And it’s as though a little piece of those words got stuck there and created some kind of a contraction, and it’s still there unless I clear it out. So that’s what I mean by an issue that gets stuck in the tissues. And it’ll stay there hidden unless we shine our light of awareness on it and do something to move it out. So, does that explain it for you?
Chip August: It does, and we need to pause to take a break, so… You’re listening to Julia Tindall. We’re talking about Yoga, tantra, we’re talking about the spiritual life. You’re listening to Sex, Love and Intimacy. As we go to break I just want to remind listeners, please do listen to the sponsors ads, that is what makes it possible to bring you the show, and there’s lots of great stuff offered for lots of good discounts for my listeners. Also you might want to look on the Personal Life Media episode pages under Sex, Love and Intimacy where there are other offers that you might want to take advantage of. And don’t forget that when we get to the last section of the interview, why Julia’s going to have an exercise that you can try at home. We’ll be right back.
Chip August: Welcome back to Sex, Love and Intimacy. I’m your host Chip August. On the show we’re talking to Julia Tindall. We’re talking about tantra, we’re talking about Yoga. When we left we were talking a little bit about cellular memory and talking about releasing shame, and on the break we were talking a little bit, and I want to talk a little bit about this polarity of male and female because I’ve had lots of different guests come at this in lots of different ways, and there’s lots of different opinions about whether that’s even a real polarity, you know, whether that’s just, not just a mental construct that somebody made up because it matched their experience, you know. So I want to talk a little bit about this play of male and female or masculine and feminine, and, ‘cause I think it plays a big role in tantra. So I’m, why is that? Like, what’s the importance of sort of this male/female thing in tantra?
Julia Tindall: This is such a great question and it’s one really close to my heart, because I have to say I have struggled with this myself. So lets just give a little bit of background on what polarity means. So we have our male energies and we all have male and female within us, and the male energies would be things like assertiveness and courage and willpower and taking charge and being responsible, things like that. And then we have our female energies, which we can call the yin, masculine would be yang. And then feminine energies would be more openness, receptivity, nurturing, love, flow, grace, those kinds of archetypal qualities. So what’s happened a lot to myself, and I know to many other women, is that we have had to take charge of our own lives; if we’re single or we have good high paying jobs, or, you know, any kind of job really, or even if we’re a mom and we have to run a household, it takes a lot of in charge kind of energy and that’s what we would call the yang energy. You’re getting it done in a masculine goal oriented kind of a way, and that’s all very well and very appropriate in your work world. But what do you think happens when your husband comes home from work and he’s also in his, they yang energy and so are you? Two magnets with the same polarity repelling each other, right, we know this from science. And I have found that when I have come into my relationship world with that yang energy it repels the man away, and what, and it may be a subtle thing but the sex life dies. And so I’ve discovered that it’s important for me as a woman to learn to be in my feminine nature. That is sexy for a guy. And it will attract more masculine men, which is what I want. I don’t want the man to come to me in a wimpy way, kind of just flowing into my world; I want him to take charge and say, “Lets go out tonight. Jump in the car. Put your best dress on. I’m taking you out.” That to me is very sexy and very fun. And then when we come home, you know, I want him to take me by the hand and lead me off to make love to me. I don’t want to be the one who instigates ‘cause I want to be in my receptive flowing feminine. Then I can dance for him, I can flow for him, and I can open, and he will be blessed by what I call my shakti energy. And this is so important for people to remember, because I hear so many stories of couples where the passion has become deadened. And if they could only learn to tweak this piece of the masculine/feminine polarity, it could make a huge difference in the charge that they build up that will relight their sex life.
Chip August: Okay, so this all gets a little… I want to stay on this for a little bit, ‘cause it all gets a little confusing for me and I want to push a little bit. First I notice you’re postulating a world where only men have sex with women and only women have sex with men, and I’m really clear that’s not true. I’m really clear that’s not even close to true. And so in the way you’ve just described it, you kind of don’t leave much room for same gender. Okay. So then you try to include same gender by saying that we all have masculine and feminine inside us. Then what I just think I heard you say is it’s more important for me to develop my masculine than my feminine, and in that moment there’s a way, I feel like I’m being told if I have, even though I’m in this really yang body, if I have really, really strong yin, you’re basically telling me I’m not going to have a happy sex life because the partners I want are all going to want me to have strong yang, and I’m… You know what I mean? I’m just kind of struggling with it all. So can, talk more about this.
Julia Tindall: Yeah. And, you know what, I was generalizing of course, and it is a complicated issue. There are some men who, by their nature, are in fact yin. You’re absolutely right. And for them they should have a yang woman, and the polarity is just simply switched and that’s going to work great. So there is room for that. And then, you know, I’m not, I don’t have a lot of experience with same gender, but I think the same really applies for same gender. There’s normally some, one of the partners who’s holding more of the yang male energy and one who is holding more of the female yin, and of course that’s not to say that it always has to be that way. There’s certainly time when we want to switch it all over. But the point is to have a polarity because the polarity creates the charge of attraction, and that’s what’s juicy and that’s what we want to experience. So I hope, does that make it clearer?
Chip August: So let me say it back to you in different words, so you… Okay. So, so what I think what you’re saying is if in my relationship I’m kind of waiting for my partner to take the lead because maybe my ego’s been bruised or I just don’t, I just, I was never very good at taking the lead or maybe my libido just, over time my libido wasn’t quite as strong as it once was or… For whatever reason, I just notice that I’m no longer really stepping up and taking the lead. Meanwhile, my partner really feels most comfortable in her sort of yin receptive. In that moment, we’re both going to be pretty yin and probably there’s really, there’s probably no path out of that without one of us deciding, “Hey, there’s a lot of yin here and there’s not a lot of yang.” And what I think I’m hearing you say is it actually doesn’t… Typically more commonly a man getting really deeply in touch with his yang, a woman getting really deeply in touch with her yin, will be a solution to this problem, but that it’s not necessarily, it’s not like a rule that all men have to be yang. Is that what you’re saying?
Julia Tindall: Yeah. There’s no rule about anything. It’s just another tool to look at for ourselves if we’re noticing in our relationships that there’s a patent going on where the juice is dripping out quickly from our passion life. And so, you know, I’ll give another example. I had a partner recently who is very much in touch with his feminine, and, you know, there came a point where we would just lie and stroke each other and cuddle and it was all very sweet and lovely, but there’s also a time when I was thinking, “Gosh, I’d like a little more action here. What’s going to happen? I don’t really want to be the one to step and be, and take charge ‘cause he’s, I want him to do it.” And so all it took was for me to say, “Gosh, you know, what, what would it take for you to just feel your masculine energy a little bit more right now?”, and just rock your genital area a little bit, do a little pelvic rocking, which we do in tantra, we get our pelvis moving, and how, and breath into that. It only took like a few minutes of this person breathing his masculine energy awake, and all of a sudden he, it just woke right up and I could feel that sexual charge immediately there, and I responded better and then he responded better, and the cycle was complete and it spiraled in a very nice upward direction from there.
Chip August: Ah, okay. So now… Okay. This is good. I’m glad, this is really good. Okay. So I just heard you say sort of the piece that was missing for me. What I, what I think I heard you say was you don’t have to be butch, you don’t have to, this is not about you have to embrace attitudes or behaviors that might not fit your personality or that you might find repugnant. What I think I just heard you say is often this is simply a case of breathing, of becoming aware of your body, of just kind of maybe breathing into your genitals and becoming aware of what your genitals actually want, and that it’s not…I think when we talk about it I hear masculine attitude and feminine attitude, and I think what I’m hearing you say is know there’s a way that it’s just a body awareness.
Julia Tindall: I think it’s all of it actually, and if in the moment we want to just focus on body awareness and feeling, like for a woman, feeling herself open and receptive like a flower bud opening. That’s a wonderful analogy. And for the man, feeling his power, his strength, his passionate nature as a male that is just ready to defend his woman with his life. You know, that kind of energy just immediately is internal for many women. And I just invite people to play with that a little bit when they’re at home. Even do role playing, make it a little bit over the top, and just see if that energy ignites more fire.
Chip August: And then it seems to be somewhere hidden in all this also, if in fact you’re in those roles and they’re not working for you, there’s probably a value also in, you know… Guys, try on your yin a little bit, you know. Get out of your yang a little bit and notice how it is to be receptive. Women, try on your yang a little bit. I notice when you look at the yin/yang symbols, there’s a little dot of yin in the yang and there’s a little dot of yang in the yin.
Julia Tindall: Yeah, absolutely. And like you said, it’s really fun to play with both. I mean, I often give, with couples I give them a homework and I say, “Okay, for one night the man is going to be the receiver and the woman is going to be the giver.” She’s going to instigate everything. She’s going to be, if you like, you know, the one who pleasure the man and he’s just going to maybe guide her a little, but he’s going to just receive, or practice receiving being very yin. And then the next night we’ll switch it. And it’s wonderful to have those tools in our tool kit, rather than being on dimensional. And I hear so often from both men and women that they never really receive completely. And so to have the opportunity to say, “Okay, just tonight I am going to be on the receiving end” Or, “Just tonight I’m going to be the one who gives”, and play with that and see what unfolds from that place.
Chip August: Seems like the perfect place to take another break. We’re going to pause for a moment and give a chance for our sponsors to support us. Listeners, if you’re liking what you’re hearing just know that we transcribe almost every episode of Sex, Love and Intimacy, and so if there’s some phrase that you’ve just heard Julia say and you think, “I have to just like copy that and put it up on my computer terminal everyday” or, “You know, I need to send that to my husband” or “my wife”, great. You have an opportunity to go look at the pages and, you know, see what’s there. It’s also a great way to tell people what you’re enjoying, you know, to just capture a little bit of what we’ve talked about and send it to a friend and say, “Hey, this is a great conversation. Why don’t you, why don’t you listen in?” That is how the show grows, your willingness to tell people about the show and that you enjoy it, and I do encourage you. We get more and more listeners each month, and I really love your support. If you want to give me feedback you can send me email at, to [email protected], that’s all one word, personallifemedia.com. I do read the email and really appreciate it, so if you have ideas for shows, suggestions, comments, criticisms, please let me know and check out our episode pages. We’ll be right back.
Chip August: Welcome back to Sex, Love and Intimacy. I’m your host Chip August. I’m talking to Julia Tindall. She’s a tantra teacher, a Yoga teacher. We’ve been talking about the polarity of masculine and feminine. We’ve been talking about breathing and being in your body and cellular memory and just a mixing of tantra and Yoga. Now it seems to me that tantra is like a Yoga and just, so can you just say a little bit about tantra and Yoga and their intersection and how they go together and all that?
Julia Tindall: Oh boy. In one second or less, huh? Ahhh! It’s a huge subject. Now actually tantra really came first they say in the ? and the ancient riches of India. Yoga developed as a path of tantra originally. So this is way back when. Now what we understand as Yoga in this country is not what Yoga originally was, and you have to be very clear on that. We think of Yoga as a physical movement, we think of Ashtanga, Bitumen, Iyengar, often of Yoga movements, and that is a tiny, tiny piece of what Yoga is. Essentially both Yoga and tantra are pause to spiritual awakening. That’s very important to know. And like I said before, they’re both ways of integrating ourselves to become more whole. The Yoga, the half of Yoga will help open the body, and Yana Yoga, self inquiry, will help literally, I’m going to say clear the ego of unwanted belief systems so that we know ourselves better. Tantra will help clear our energy field and help to open our hearts, and actually in many ways tantra was always seen as the rocket ship to the divine because working with the tantric energies, the sexual energies, is very, very powerful. And there are Yoga’s of tantra, so it’s always very, very intersected and it’s an enormous subject, so I don’t think I can, I don’t want to say too much more at this point. I hope that clarifies somewhat.
Chip August: No, it was great. That was, that was exactly what I was looking for. So, so you have these ancient, thousands and thousands of years old techniques that all are sort of intertwined and have lots of interplay between them, and then we bring them here into this modern world. And so, is that, I mean, shouldn’t we like develop modern techniques for the modern world, you know?
Julia Tindall: Yes, I believe we should, and I think there’s been an explosion in the evolution of both the Yoga and tantra, well we’ve seen it, it’s everywhere. And it’s popular. It’s, I mean Yoga’s now seen on television ads and billboards. It’s the new hip thing. And you know what, this is great, because even if people are starting out just opening their physical body more, it will for some people lead them in to inquire deeper as to what’s next. And what’s next is developing their consciousness and their awareness in other realms, and that’s when people often come to teachers like myself who tend to go deeper and want to, people want to expand more into the other arenas of consciousness really, and that’s really exciting. I love it when I get a student who says, “Well I’ve been doing this and this, and I’m noticing I have a little stuck place in my hip and no matter what I do it doesn’t shift. What can I, what can I do for that?” And that’s when I’ll want to say, “Well have you looked to your issues of (unintelligible) and guilt”, because normally that’s what’s stuck in their hip. And I know for myself that when I worked my Yana Yoga piece, meaning the self inquiry, the letting go of a lot of my shadow issues, meaning these things, you know, anger and self judgment and lack of forgiveness, I mean all this stuff that we burden ourselves with… As I went through my Yana Yoga class to clear that, my body automatically opened, and it was not to do with doing more physical exercise, absolutely not at all, and that to me was a revelation. And now I’m in my 50’s and I’m far more open in my physical body than I ever was in my 20’s. and I hope, everybody listening, that that is a huge incentive to get off your tushies and do something.
Chip August: I love the way people with English accents say tushy. We’re coming sort of to the end of our time together. I know that you lead Yoga retreats and tantra retreats and trips all over the world; if people wanted to get in touch with you or they wanted to learn more about your retreats or things like that, how would they find you?
Julia Tindall: Well I have a pretty good web presence. You could start with my website, it is my name, www.juliatindall.com, and that’s spelled j-u-l-i-a-t-i-n-d-a-double l, juliantindall.com. Or you can simply email me; my email address is [email protected], and I also respond to every email. It’s what I do. I don’t have a day job, I love what I do, I’m passionate about it, and I would love it if more of you would come and play with me, not just here in California, but at exotic locations around the world where we have fun and we play, as well as doing the more serious work of consciousness.
Chip August: Listeners, if you didn’t get a chance to write all that down, just remember that if you go to the personallifemedia.com website at Sex, Love and Intimacy you will find Julia’s bio and you’ll find links to her website and ways to get in touch with her, so you don’t have to remember all that. Just visit us at personallifemedia.com and go to the Sex, Love and Intimacy pages or just search for her name, Julia Tindall, on that site, and you’ll find her there. Julia we always like to make sure that our listeners get an exercise, something they can try at home to improve the love, intimacy and/or sexuality in their life, and you seem to have a bunch of them, so could you suggest on that listeners might want to try?
Julia Tindall: Yes, I’ll be happy to Chip. So this is a, starts with a journaling exercise, and so what I suggest you all do it take a, take some time, take a blank sheet of paper and start to journal parts of your sexual history where you felt shamed. And it could be that you were shamed for lack of performance, for a certain body part, being criticized, for cultural shaming, all kinds of things that you could be shamed for, masturbations a big one, so many things. So start to write a list. You could even write it as a story of your life, but write it all down and see if you can even maybe over a course of a week add pieces to it so you can get all of that shame stuff out of your system and at least onto paper. And when you’ve done that you’re going to do a little tiny ritual to offer this up and release it out of your system. So what I would suggest is you sit with a piece of paper in front of you, you take, close your eyes, take some deep breaths, and you just say to yourself, “I release the cellular memory I’m holding of all of this shame from all of my past out of my body right now, and I release it for transformation.” And you might then want to burn the paper or tear it up in some kind of ritualistic way and then give thanks for the release.
Chip August: What a lovely exercise. Julia you’ve been a great guest. It’s, the time just flies by, but we’re running out of time right now, and I just really want to thank you for making the time to visit and to spend this time with me. Thank you so much.
Julia Tindall: Thank you too, Chip. It’s been a pleasure.
Chip August: And listeners, thank you for listening. I really appreciate your support. I appreciate you listening to these episodes and meeting all my friends, and so thanks again for listening into this show. This brings us to the end of another episode of Sex, Love and Intimacy, and I hope you’ll join us again next time.