First Solo Against-The-Wall Headstand

I’ve been practicing the against-the-wall headstand for about a month now, and aside from the time a professor helped me do a headstand, I hadn’t been able to get my hips over my head.

Suddenly yesterday, during an at-home-practice, my feet were magically up. I was a little surprised because I had zero expectations of making any progress during my 15-minute yoga session. I also hadn’t gone to a class in over a week due to scheduling issues. But for whatever reason, yesterday was the day.

Walls are handy-dandy when learning headstand!

To prepare myself for the asana, I’d been doing a few different things. First, I was putting my head and forearms on the floor and doing a sort of down dog as I walked my feet closer and closer to my head (I believe the teacher called this prepping for a bound headstand).

I was also working on making an L shape against the wall – I’d put my forearms and head down about three feet from the wall, with my face toward the wall. Then I’d walk my feet up the wall until my body was in an L shape.

Although I know these poses helped me build strength, I think much of learning to do a headstand was just eliminating fear. Fear that I would fall over, fear that I wasn’t strong enough, fear that I would hurt myself. When I stopped being afraid my legs just kicked over and I realized it wasn’t even difficult.

Sometimes all you need to brighten your day is a little unexpected yoga progress!

Anyone else had any progress lately?

An Econ Prof Taught Me Headstand

When I started this blog, the topics of yoga and my MBA seemed mutually exclusive. I thought – I’ll write about yoga one day, then business a few days later. After all, charts, graphs, and data dumps are basically polar opposites of meditation and breath. Yet, every now and then, worlds collide!

This is how I look when I do a headstand.

I started at my current yoga studio in August, and at one of my first classes I recognized an economics professor from my school. I’d never taken his economics class, but I remembered him as a sponsor of an undergraduate team at a university case competition.

Over the weeks we began chatting, and we often frequented the same Ashtanga class. As many of you know, sirsasana (headstand) is part of the finishing sequence of the primary series. After a few weeks of watching me flounder in my sirsasana attempts, I think the prof’s teacher instincts took over, and he came over and helped me get my hips over my head! He also gave me some tips about how to adjust my form and how to strengthen my shoulders.

Unfortunately, I am still not doing headstand on my own, but I can tell it’s not far away! Also, my mind is blown over the whole experience. How many MBA students can say their b-school prof taught them a tricky asana?

Has anyone else found a random acquaintance in your yoga class?

My First Yoga Doubleheader

In the spirit of the baseball postseason (just kidding, the timing was coincidental), I had my very first yoga doubleheader yesterday!

This might be a new life goal: a handstand on a rock by a lake in front of a mountain.

I didn’t head to class intending to stay for two, but class number one didn’t hit the spot. I was super energized, and my first class was too mellow – I needed a way to channel my energy into something more active. Thus, I stayed for class numero dos.

And am I glad I did, because the teacher did a handstand workshop! I have yet to do a handstand, but before yesterday I’d never tried. In fact, I didn’t even know what types of prep moves I needed to do to start building confidence and strength.

We started with several arm strengthening poses (downward facing dog, chaturangas, etc.), then we did some wall work (L-handstand), and wrapped up with some partner work.

I can’t recall the last time I left class feeling so refreshed and excited about my practice. I have to admit, that part of my yogic lull is tied to the fact that my current studio is a bummer. Although there are tons of class names (meditative yoga, radiant yoga, expressionist yoga), every single one seems the same to me. Sometimes I need a good old vinyasa flow class, and this place just doesn’t have that. Anyhoo, I have eight or so more classes there till I will likely be moving on once again.

Anyone else enjoyed doubleheaders in the past? Or maybe regularly?

Anyone have any tips for learning handstand?

The Back to B-School Grind

Classes are in full swing and my life has converted once again to classes all day, group meetings all night. I’ve been dreaming about the free nights that come with a nine to five job, and I’m feeling super ready to graduate.

This typically ends up happening when I try to study in bed.

BUT good things are happening that can’t be ignored.

First, I was selected me as a team lead for a start-up project. This means I’ve been working like a busy bee with my MBA team. I know something like 90% of startups fail, but there’s always the slim chance we won’t, in which case the head investor has probed at my interest in the CEO position. That’s pretty rad.

Second, I actually like a few of my classes. As a first year MBA I was tied largely to core courses (finance, accounting, blech), but as a second year I get to choose over 50%. I’m actually enjoying my corporate social responsibility class and my consumer behavior class, which is a great feeling since last year I didn’t have any I really looked forward to.

Lastly, I’m dead set on going a spring break study abroad. It’s a short trip, but I’m thinking I might head over to China… or maybe Japan… Regardless, I have something really big to look forward to toward the end of the year.

I hope everyone’s year is off to a great start!

Anyone else working on a practicum/consulting project?

Anyone done a b-school study abroad?

I Didn’t Buy New Clothes for Four Months: The Results

My four-month spending freeze officially came to a close on September 1st. I learned quite a bit this summer about my shopping and general consumption, and I wanted to share some of the highlights:

At the end of the summer I finally said goodbye to this infamous yellow tank to which I dedicated this post.

 I saved about $120 per month

This was super exciting for me! It turns out I wasn’t spending $120 per month just on clothes, but once I started my freeze on apparel, it trickled over into other areas of my life. I bought less yoga gear, cosmetics, toiletries, camping gear, etc. I didn’t realize how much small purchases were adding up over the course of each month. As a grad student, saving $120/month is a big deal!

I used fewer clothes than I thought I would

I decided not to do a capsule for a few reasons, but I didn’t have my whole wardrobe on hand this summer anyway. I was living out of state so I only took what I could fit into a couple suitcases. I ended up having about 40 items on rotation, and I never felt like I was repeating clothing too often. In fact, there were two items I never wore (which are now being donated).

I Learned What my Go-To Outfit Is

That would be a button down shirt tucked into pants with a belt. I realized I needed to stop investing in dressy tank tops, and direct that money toward button down shirts – especially ones I don’t need to iron.

I never needed something I didn’t have

Well aside from that time I went to the corporate gym in the morning before work and forgot to pack a bra. That is the one clothing item I purchased during the freeze. I wasn’t going to go braless in a white shirt for the day, so I didn’t exactly have an option. It was annoying.

These pajama shorts were so sad. A hole (visible top left) and fabric peeling from the elastic. I finally parted with them.

I also acquired two clothing items during the summer – both gifts from my boyfriend. He got me socks to commemorate our trip to Alaska (awesome socks), and a t-shirt to commemorate our trip to Seattle. He’s a pretty nice guy.

So, in summary, I did a giant purge at the beginning of the summer and donated two trash bags full of clothing. During the summer I acquired three items, at the end of the summer I discarded/donated 21 items. Then just today I went shopping for the first time, and picked up six items that I needed. I still have a couple basics I need to pick up in the next few days (like a white shirt).

Moving forward I want to be more conscious of buying only what I need. For the next four months I intend to practice a “one clothing item in, two out” rule. In 2016 I will reevaluate the size of my wardrobe, and decide what I want to do moving forward.

Lastly, I’m excited to be taking a class on corporate social responsibility this semester, and I will be learning more about the perils of fast fashion! I’ll keep you all posted on anything I learn.

Anyone else on a spending freeze?

Did anyone start a new capsule wardrobe? How’s it going?

Anyone thinking of a spending freeze or capsule? Why or why not?

5 Tips for Making The Most of B-School

Another year has begun and we are back in the MBA saddle. Read on to learn about five tips to maximize your time in b-school:

coffee-cup-bed-bedroomWake Up Early

This might sound ridiculous, I mean, you have the next 40 years of your life to wake up early. And let’s be clear, I’m not suggesting you start waking up at 5am, but I have become acutely aware of just how important morning hours can be. When classes don’t start until 10, or even noon, it’s really easy to just lie in bed and watch Netflix, but if you’re like me, these are actually the most productive hours of your day. Do some homework, fit in a workout, and then when you get home from school late at night, you won’t have to tackle the same tasks when you are much more tired.

Grad school can be a constant game of procrastination, if you let it. I firmly believe you will get more out of your day and be happier if you set a time each morning that you will get up and get working.

Build Your Network

I’ve mentioned this previously on my blog, but it’s so much more important than I initially thought. Networking is such a buzzword that I’m often fatigued at its mention. But really, it’s the key to everything in business. You know that professor who is famous for those articles he published? Ask to be his TA. Did you hear that one of the career center advisors used to work for P&G? Set up an appointment. Even your peers will be invaluable because they are all going to be high-powered business folk down the road.

Complete a Practicum

This is the only coursework I fully remember from my first year in grad school. Sitting in class, taking tests, all of that was in one ear and out the other. The practicum, however, will stick with me for some time. I had to work on a real business problem for a client, and I got to see the impact of my work. Yes, practicums are time consuming, but it was the best preparation I had for my internship.

Take Classes that Interest You

Apparently I have an internal guilt thermometer that rages red-hot when I deviate from the norm. I decided to drop a class that aligned with my marketing emphasis (gasp!). This class was not required, it was boring, and the professor was awful. Still, because the word “marketing” was in the course title, I felt compelled to take the course. Thankfully, good sense was able to trump the emotions of the guilt thermometer, and I dropped the course and decided to take an elective that proved to be much more valuable and enjoyable.

You can relive your prom glory days at the MBA formal!

Attend (at least a few) Parties

I am not a partier. I went through that phase in college, and I’m pleased to have come out the other side in one piece. Still, there are a few MBA parties you’d be sad to miss. You will never again have the chance to drink free/cheap alcohol in a sexy cowboy Halloween costume with the people you spend every day with (if you do, I’m curious about where you work!). Also, what’re the odds you will have the opportunity to attend another formal once you graduate? Have some fun this year and get the last of the partying out of your system before you have to attend grown-up things at your company such as dry holiday parties and silent auctions.

Anyone have other tips to make our next year in b-school magical?

Affordable Yoga Pants Review: Which Brand Wins?

When I started yoga way back in January, I knew I needed to buy my first pair of leggings/spandex. I had avoided these revealing pants in the past A) because I had no real use for them and B) they are a bit more scandalous that I’m used to.

Since January I have become a leggings enthusiast. Although I don’t wear them in the general public, they are my go-to yoga wear.

I didn’t invest in expensive brands largely because I’m a poor graduate student, but also because at the time I didn’t know of many yoga brands (aside from Lululemon, but I choose not to buy clothes there for other reasons).

For the last eight months I’ve been practicing yoga with these pants in my arsenal:

Old Navy: Compression Leggings
Old Navy: Go-Dry Cool Compression Crops 
Target: C9 Champion Women’s Legging 

Fabletics: Salar Legging

Read on for detailed descriptions of how each pant has worked for me. 

IMG_8071Old Navy: Compression Leggings
Five/Five Stars
Best Uses: Ashtanga/Power/Hot Yoga

These are my absolute favorite. I got them for $20 in the after-Christmas sale, and they are my go-to for any sweaty yoga class. First, they are very lightweight and they don’t show any sweat. They are breathable so I don’t feel like I’m suffocating even in a heated class. Although they are compression pants, they don’t feel restricting. I’m curious if this line is now called “Go-Dry”, but it was just traditional compression when I purchased them.

IMG_8072Old Navy: Go-Dry Cool Compression Crops
Four/Five Stars
Best Uses: Vinyasa/Hatha Yoga

These pants are pretty darn solid. Even though they are called “Go-Dry Cool” the material is slightly heavier than the plain Old Navy Compression leggings. They also don’t show sweat, but they do feel a little swampy in a hot yoga class. I like these for mid-level sweatiness.

IMG_8069Target: C9 Champion Women’s Legging
Four/Five Stars
Best Uses: Restorative/Yin Yoga

If I had to recommend these for a hot yoga class they would probably get two/five stars, but for the restorative/yin classes I attend they are perfect. They are extraordinarily soft and stretchy. I have these in a dark color, but I’m positive that if they were a lighter color they would show sweat. These pants are perfect for non-sweaty days.

IMG_8070Fabletics: Salar Legging
Three/Five Stars
Best Uses: Running/Jumping

These are without a doubt the most compression-y of all of my pants which makes it a little more difficult to get into poses while wearing them. Also, I have them in a purple color that shows sweat (which makes me less likely to wear them running). If I were to repurchase in black, I think the rating would go up to four/five, but I would most likely still not wear them during yoga, and wear them during activities such as interval training.

Anyone tried any of these pants? Did you have similar or different experiences?

Are there some other affordable pants I should try?

Are there any “fancy pants” that are so amazing it would be worth spending more money?

MBA Internship Wrap-Up: I Got the Offer!

Yesterday, after 12 weeks as a marketing intern at a CPG company, I was offered a full-time position as an Associate Brand Manager!

The job would start next summer, once I have my b-school diploma. I have to say, I’m extremely relieved because the last 12 weeks haven’t exactly been low stress. Read on to hear some details about my summer:

The Worst Moment

Approximately one month before my final presentation, I met with a sales strategist and found out that some of the recommendations I was building were already in the pipeline. I think the guy felt horrible because my jaw dropped and my eyes got huge and I had a few minutes of freak out. First, I didn’t understand why no one else had told me this, and second, I felt like I needed to build a new recommendation (which would’ve been impossible in the last third of the summer).

Thankfully, the Brand Manager and the Senior Brand Manager met with me and told me this was fine. They also found it interesting to see that I was recommending what they were hoping to do. In the end I was able to provide data and rationale for their decisions.

celebrateThe Best Moment

Uhhh. Getting the offer. But if that doesn’t count, then maybe a community service day we had with one of the brand teams. Although I do enjoy community service, the real reason that day was awesome was because I befriended the director of a top brand in the company, and he was my advocate for the rest of the summer!

The Most Awkward Moment

Without giving away too much information on where I was working, let’s just say there are some “intimate” products in this company’s portfolio. On my very first day the director of one of these intimate brands asked me if I used the product, and what I preferred. In front of about 10 people. And I had to answer. Now I think I’m a little too comfortable talking about these private items.

The Most Valuable Thing I Learned

It’s all about your network. I’ll probably dedicate a full post to this in the future, but you will get hired based on whether or not people like you and can relate to you. Obviously you have to be capable of completing your project, but good companies only recruit people that are capable of doing it (unless you are just an excellent schmoozer). You will set yourself apart based on how you work with others, and how many influential people you can get in your court.

What My Plans Are

Relax! Kidding (kind of). I realize I am so fortunate to be heading into year two of b-school with an offer in my pocket. Because I did like it here, I doubt I will shop around to different CPG companies to try and pit offers against each other. I suppose there is a slim chance I will look for jobs where my family lives or where my boyfriend lives, but neither one of those cities have big CPG companies, so I wouldn’t be able to go into brand management. If I had to guess, I think there’s about an 80% chance I will be back here next summer!

Best of luck to those of you wrapping up internships and starting school!

Anyone else get offers this summer?

Does anyone have any questions about applying for internships?

Or about working in marketing for CPG companies?

Yoga at the Studio vs. Yoga at Home

As long as I have a good teacher, I am a big proponent of yoga at the studio – especially for new yogis. But I have to admit, there are benefits to both. Read on to determine which type of practice fits you best:

Benefits of Yoga at Home:

  • It’s free. Let’s be honest, studios are not cheap.
  • You can go at your own pace, press pause when you need to, and rewind when something feels so good you want to do it twice.
  • No judgment. Although if you are attending a studio where there is judgment, you should start looking for a new one, because that’s lame.
Home yoga, studio yoga, how about some backyard yoga?

Benefits of Yoga at a Studio

  • An instructor. As long as you have a good one, this is super valuable. He/she can verbally or physically adjust you to make sure you are maximizing each position and not doing anything dangerous.
  • A community. Meeting your fellow yogis can help keep you motivated to work hard and inspire you to try new things.
  • Accountability. If you’re like me, paying for something helps you commit to going. When I have no official commitment, it’s easier to put off until tomorrow/never.

 Is there anything I left out?

Where do you like to practice, and why?

Grad School Loans Part II: Budgeting for an MBA

Let’s dive into my grad school financials. If you first want an overview of my grad school loans check out Part I. Note that this budget does not account for the amount of tuition I paid at the beginning of the semester with my loans. It does account for things like books and parking passes.

7027596629_70d7540363_oI’ve always been a financial planner, so I had a well-developed budget heading into grad school. I made some tweaks based on my life as a student, and this is the budget I decided I would need for my two years in school:

Monthly Grad School Budget
Groceries  $        70.00
Eating Out  $        70.00
Personal Care  $        80.00
Entertainment  $        20.00
General Shopping  $     100.00
Gas  $        60.00
Misc.  $        50.00
Travel  $     100.00
Gifts for Others  $     150.00
Electric/Internet  $        60.00
Rent  $     700.00
Roth IRA  $     100.00
Car Insurance  $        80.00
Grad School Expenses  $     200.00
TOTAL Cost/Month  $  1,840.00

I also wasn’t completely rigid with the money buckets. For example, around the holidays I would shift much more money into the “gifts for others” section at the expense of “general shopping”. Often when I wasn’t spending money on “travel”, I’d shift that money over to my general shopping fund (the amount of money I spent there is a conversation for another day).

Based on this budget, I was able to take out the loans I needed to feel comfortable. It was rare that I spent the full budget each month, but I decided it would be better to have a bit of excess than not enough.

I also came into some unexpected money during the year that made me wish I’d taken out a couple thousand less. The first money influx was from winning the case competition, and the second was a tax refund. I did my own taxes for the first time and was able to find several ways to get money back.

Heading into this next year I’m taking out fewer loans in the fall (thanks to savings from my internship) and extra in the spring (because I hope to do a study abroad over spring break and then travel once I graduate).

Do you have any questions about my budget?

How did you budget for school?

Did you so something differently that was very successful?