I stopped telling my friends that I had Dalgona coffee at the Zeroism Vegan Café, because instead of an adoring „Oh, that sounds wonderful, how was it?” I would always get a reproachful, „Oh, you could have done this easily yourself, at home.” Of course they didn’t mean „I Alfons could have“ but what my friend was really saying was, „She herself knows how to make the best Dalgona coffee, very likely the best on the planet.“ TikTok turned the entire category of iced instant coffee drinks into a Film-It-Yourself while you Do-It-Yourself challenge. Rule #1 of Dalgona coffee: Tell everyone how easy it is to make Dalgona coffee.
Anyways, it took me the length of drinking two Dalgona coffees to spell out a first version of my own Shoulder Circles lesson. And what you should know is this: Dalgona coffee is a beverage made by whipping equal proportions of instant coffee powder, sugar, and hot water until it becomes creamy, and then scooping that on top of a slightly less sweet mélange that‘s one part coconut milk and one part cashew milk that‘s poured over ice-cubes in a stemless wine glass.
There you go, I just described to you how Dalgona coffee is made. What is wrong with me.
Anyways, where was I… it took me two hours to drip out a first draft of this lesson. And I brewed another half hour wondering why it turned out to sound so thin. It seems to be lacking something. What is missing? Salt? Sugar? More instant coffee powder?
Without teaching to someone in person, without not even moving myself, the text seems stale, out of rhythm, timed to the movements of no one. Adjusted to the needs of no one.
I will read it out loud, again, record audio, again, and rewrite it, again. I need to listen to it, move to it. Turn the words into movements. Without having to clean the entire kitchen afterwards. By the time I will be done, it’s time to sleep again. In this way this lesson will also make a wonderful Good Night story for my shoulders, for them to have a good night’s rest.
Good Night Shoulder Circles
- first edit: I turned statements with „notice” and „observe” into questions
- second edit: any words that don’t advance the lesson obfuscate it: I removed filler words, tried to sound more vivid, removed parts that look good in writing, but wouldn’t in speaking
- third-to-fifth edit: recorded it, listened to it, moved to it, slept over it, listened to it again, smoothed out the text even more, recorded it again, again, again, made it simpler, easier, lighter, I need to settle for „good enough”.
Would you please come to lie on your left side. Put your legs together, one on top of the other, bend them comfortably. Support your head, there shouldn’t be any strain on your neck, you should be comfortable. Place your right hand on the floor (or on your bed) somewhere in front of you. Make yourself as comfortable as possible.
And now bring your attention to your right shoulder, move it forwards. Move your right shoulder forwards, a little bit. And then allow it to return again, to where you started. That’s the home position for your right shoulder. Move your right shoulder forwards and let it come back home again.
Move your right shoulder forwards, and allow your head and shoulders to turn a tiny little bit to the left, together with your right shoulder. Allow your head and your chest to roll. A little bit.
Does your right shoulder move together with your head and chest, equally much, or does your right shoulder move much more than your head and your chest?
Move your right shoulder forwards and at the same time pay attention to your right hand. Do you lean a bit more onto your right hand? Do you shift weight onto your right hand?
Can you feel your shoulder-blade sliding around your chest? How much does it slide? Are your shoulder-blade and your chest walking like hand-in-hand, with your shoulder-blade leading your chest? Or do your shoulder and your chest move together – as if they were one piece?
How do you feel about your movements? Simplify your movements, simplify everything that moves in this movement. There’s no point in me ordering the movements to feel easier, simpler, lighter. Instead, find a quality, find a way of moving yourself, that will make you say „Oh, that‘s delightful”.
And stop it. Where’s the home position of your right shoulder now?
And now move your right shoulder backwards – into the opposite direction of forwards. Move your right shoulder backwards. And let it return home again. Do this many times.
Moving it backwards might work-and-feel different than forwards. Do you still allow your chest and head to roll together with your right shoulder? How much do they roll? Do you feel as if all separate parts are moving, or do you move at once, all together? How far does your right shoulder move backwards slowly, easily, comfortably, effortlessly? Is it the same distance as forwards?
Combine forwards and backwards. Combine these two directions to draw a line. Is it a line? Or is it a curve? It could be.
Now stop it and change the position of your right arm. Place your right arm onto your right side, your right hand somewhere close to your pelvis.
This shall be the new home position for your right arm and your right shoulder. Make yourself comfortable.
Then, move your right shoulder forwards, home, backwards, home again. A couple of times. Did the movements change because your right arm has a new home position? What would you say has changed?
Notice if your jaw is relaxed. If the movements affect our breathing. Don’t let them.
Stop for a moment. And now move your right shoulder upwards, towards your right ear, and return home again. Upwards, and then let it return home again.
And now pay attention: while you move your right shoulder upwards, lift your head. Bring your right ear closer to your right shoulder. Do not turn your head to touch your nose to your shoulder. Lift your head to bring your right ear towards your right shoulder. Move them towards each other. Simply. They meet each other. Do this a couple of times.
Now rest your head again. Reverse the direction of your shoulder movements. Move your right shoulder downwards, and return home again. Downwards, and let it return.
And now combine upwards and downwards.
Think of drawing a line with your right shoulder which is perpendicular to the previous one.
Before it was forwards and backwards. In fact, move your right shoulder forwards and backwards for a couple of times, and then upwards and downwards again. Find a clear image for these two lines of movement which meet at a right angle.
Move slowly enough, carefully enough, so that your chest and head have time to respond to the movements of your shoulder.
Now stand your right hand in front of you again. On the floor (or on your bed).
Feel, sense, where would your hand like to stand? In which direction would you point your fingers? Is this a different location than before?
Forwards and backwards, upwards and downwards. Feel how the movements are different when your hand is standing in front of you, compared to your hand when it was resting on your side.
And now combine the four directions into circles. Forwards, downwards, backwards, upwards, forwards, downwards, backwards, upwards… connect the endpoints of the lines. Draw circles.
Do not force your movements, don’t try to get perfect circles. Instead focus on making the movements effortless, smooth, flowing, pleasant. „Sensing” the movements is as important as „creating” them.
And now counter-clockwise circles. Change directions. If you moved in clockwise circles before, now move in counter-clockwise circles. How is this different?
Place your arm on your right side again, casually, your right hand somewhere close to your pelvis. Again, draw circles with your right shoulder. Does this particular arm position change the shape of your circles? The center point of your circles? What else has changed? Did you hold your breath for a moment? Did you tighten your jaw? Don’t allow these movements and observations to cause you to tense up.
And then stop it, roll onto your back and rest.
Compare your right shoulder to your left. Which one feels better? Which one feels more like you would like it to be? The right one or the left one? Resting on your back like that, which shoulder-blade touches down better?
And by the way, can you feel any difference in your face? Can you feel any difference between your right side and left side? In general. Any difference in how you’re breathing? Any difference between your right leg and your left leg? Between how you felt before the lesson, and… How do you feel now?