Feminist Feature: Dina Gambella, Therapist & Yogi
Dina Gambella lights up every single room she walks into. Dina is the living embodiment of female power, changing lives through therapy and yoga (literally what more could we want).
Introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about yourself, what you do and how you got there!
WADDUP GIRL GANG! My name is Dina Gambella and I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist/Yoga Instructor. I moved to Charlotte in 2009 to pursue my Masters degree and since then have been treating couples, addiction, and eating disorders. I own and solely operate my private practice, Fellow Traveler Counseling PLLC located in Matthews, NC, lead The Renfrew Center of Charlotte's therapeutic yoga program, and teach yoga to the community through NC YOGA BAR. I am so very passionate about the work I do and am super grateful to all the connections I've made through sharing my gifts and skill sets as a therapist and yoga instructor. I was called to this profession after surviving a devastating loss at the age of 19, I began my own therapeutic journey towards healing and realized that I wanted to do the same for others. I wholeheartedly believe in "paying it forward" and realized that I could help other individuals survive their own struggles the way my amazing therapist helped me survive my own.
What should women that want to start practicing yoga know?
The first lesson in yoga (in my humble opinion) is to let go of any expectations, preconceived notions, and judgments about the practice as well as YOURSELF. I hear women say all the time, "I am not flexible!," or "I don't know how to meditate," or "I would be embarrassed to do yoga in front of others because I am not good at it." If you have an itch to start practicing yoga (or do to anything else for that matter), I say to go ahead and give it a scratch...the worst that can happen is that you hate it and realize it's not for you! Women should feel good about any sort of movement or activity that they do with their bodies and if yoga is calling your name, it might be time to answer. Yoga is a place for acceptance of what already is; sure, there is always room for growth but the practice will meet you EXACTLY AS YOU ARE (perfectly imperfect) and that is a beautiful thing!
How should they go about getting started?
There are a million ways to get started! Charlotte offers a million ways to get into yoga whether it's through a studio, a brewery class, or classes offered in other public venues, there is space for everyone! Personally, I started by purchasing a mat and a dvd for beginners from Target that I would use to practice in my apartment before I worked up the courage to attend a studio! There is no wrong way to start! Be mindful of any injuries or medical conditions that you've sustained and do your research on types of yoga that would be most beneficial for your unique, beautiful body!
Talk to us about therapy - how to get started, why it’s important..! My personal policy is that it’s the best investment anyone can make in themselves!
I see therapy as an hour of self care carved out especially for you, a chance to sit with an unbiased party and discuss thoughts, emotions, and how those two interact to form behavior. No one will "tell you what to do" or "give advice." I tell my patients that I am simply a mirror, I show them exactly what I see per what they report and then give them the freedom and autonomy to make decisions about their live and how they want to problem solve. Therapy is important because there are millions of people who do not have the luxury of having a strong support system through their friends or family. Therapy provides a safe space to unpack difficulties, struggles, and relational issues. Much like yoga, a therapist will meet you EXACTLY AS YOU ARE without judgment and provide solutions to problems. I like to think that therapy provides clarity, awareness, and insight that allows for introspection and growth. Investing in your emotional health is the new black, people!
Tell us about your approach to body neutrality or positivity? Are there any tips or tricks you can share?
My approach to body neutrality and positivity is to live my own truth and love myself to the best of my ability. As a teen, I struggled with body image as most young women do, believing the lie that I needed to look like this or that or wear this or that to be accepted and loved. I am accepting myself exactly as I am which takes work but it is so well worth it. I practice therapy from a HAES (Health At Every Size) perspective which enables me to work with individuals of every shape and size while discrediting social norms that trap women into thinking that skinny = healthy or that larger bodied = unhealthy. I advocate for women (patients, friends, family, etc.) to accept what is, use kinder language when talking to themselves, and celebrate ALL the things their body can do versus what it looks like.
What is your favorite female founded or run company?
Can I say my own? I am so proud of my baby and I plan on doing it for many many years to come! Shameless plug here! ;)
What is your protest slogan?
BRING NOTHING BUT BAD BITCH ENERGY!!!!!!
What does Feminism, or being a Feminist mean to you?
I believe that being a feminist means to be inclusive of all schools of thought regardless of whether from a male or female standpoint. I was taught not to believe in equality, but equity. If someone is satisfied in their role then let them be. If they are not, they have the right to advocate for change. I support all movements that advance women in the workplace and society. In addition, I want to add that being a feminist includes critical thinking, challenging maladaptive narratives that diminish a woman’s potential, and making an effort to be inclusive of men as well. Too often do feminists get a bad rap for being “anti-men” or “man haters.” My idea of feminism does not include “man-bashing” or polarizing men. I believe we have to hold both men AND women accountable for their roles in the social advancement of our girl gang. If we are to rise to our own standards (and not those set by men and women of the past) then we must ALL work together, learn to see all sides, and acknowledge that feminism must also be inclusive to all sexes. Though we still have a long way to go, we can move mountains by uplifting and collaborating with one another. I am just grateful to have this dialogue, grateful to have a voice, and grateful to be a woman.
Where can we find you online?
INSTA: @THECHEEKYYOGI @FELLOWTRAVELERCOUNSELING