Common Breathing Questions & Answers

What is the Shift?

The Shift was created by Todd & Vanessa Steinberg, husband and wife team, and co-founders of Komuso Design. They were both very stressed out and feeling disconnected. They knew they needed a change.

They worked out, they ate right, to no avail. They tried meditation, but it didn't work.

They started working with a therapist who suggested they try breathing through a straw to help slow their breath down. They tried it and were instantly surprised at how effective it was.

Todd and Vanessa began researching meditation tools and breathing tools and looking for more resources, but were shocked to discover that no one was creating these much needed tools. There was very little guidance on how to make a habit of breathing better, let alone make it simple, effective, and practical.

Soon after this initial discovery, they went to a local art market and ran into a man selling 17th century Shakuhachi flutes. These flutes are used by Komuso monks to blow zen. They play the flutes and breathe and meditate to temporarily dissolve their egos.

After seeing the flutes, Todd and Vanessa had their Aha! moment and decided they were going to build the Shift necklace to unite ancient wisdom with the modern science of breathing better to give people a simple and practical tool.

Bottomline: the Shift helps you slow down your breath, which directly calms down your body’s response to stress and quiets your nervous system. Breathing better with the Shift and some easy to follow steps will help reduce the feeling of anxiety after a few minutes.

It's really simple to use:

It’s just a straw right?

We can embrace how silly it seems at first, or that it can look like we’re using a vape or smoking a cigarette. But first appearances can be deceiving.

Yes, it was inspired by a straw, but it’s so much more than that.

The length and circumference of the Shift are not random. The Shift isn’t just a random plastic straw. Our breathing tool was designed in collaboration with a psychotherapist, and was first tested for over a year by his patients to find the perfect shape and size to allow for the ideal exhale.

Straws can be counterproductive when you are trying to lower your anxiety and feel more calm.

First, if you use a tube that’s too narrow or long, your exhale will be strained, which could put pressure on your heart, causing it to work harder.

Next, if the tube is too wide or short, it won’t slow the exhale long enough, and your body won’t receive the signal to calm down.

And last, quality matters, right? Especially when it comes to putting something in your mouth. The Shift’s body and chain are made with a high quality 316 stainless steel with a high polish finish, which is ultra-durable.


Lindsay L.  (Hattiesburg, US)

I’m a respiratory therapist. I saw someone comment a straw can do the same thing....well not exactly. It doesn’t have the exact resistance this does to slow your exhalation. And much more fun than wearing a straw would be :)

How do I clean the Shift?

The Shift is intentionally manufactured using a high quality stainless steel, which makes it easy to clean with soap and water. The precious metal colors are baked through the piece so you never have to worry about tarnishing or rusting when exposed to water. This also makes it much harder for the color to chip or fade. You can also run a q-tip through the center of the piece for more thorough cleaning.

Why can’t I just breathe slower on my own?

That’s a great question. Of course you can simply purse your lips to breathe slower.

But let us ask a follow up question: why don’t we do that more often then?

This question inspired the founders to create this breathing tool, to help people develop the habit of better breathing by slowing down our exhale whenever we start to feel anxious or stressed out.

We’ve found that our customers like having a physical tool to use because when stress hits, the nervous system enters "fight or flight" mode. And when we reach that level of anxiety, it’s really hard to just stop and slow down our breathing because our body is already reacting by increasing our heart rate, increasing our blood pressure, and increasing our cortisol levels. It’s like trying to slow your breath after running up a few flights of stairs. It’s physiology, it’s simply the way our bodies work.

The tool allows you to take the guesswork out of breathing better and helps guide you through the chaos of “flight or fight” to bring you back to level and calm your nervous system. Having the Shift with you anywhere and everywhere allows you to focus your attention on the tool, and let it guide you through the storm.

The diameter and length of our breathing tool was designed, tested, and perfected by a therapist and meditation teacher who identified the ideal exhale that triggers a calming response tested. By extending the exhale to 8-10 seconds and focusing on the breath alone, the Shift will help transform your state of mind and physical reaction to stress very quickly.

Bonus: the more you use it, the more organically this response happens.

Bonus bonus: all of this happens naturally, without the need for medication or other substances.

Bonus bonus bonus: the Shift is a breathing tool in disguise, an elegant piece of jewelry with a purpose.


Tatianna S. (Bothell, US)

As soon as I used the shift I was able to quickly calm my entire body with ease and little thought.

Is the Shift made with real 14k gold or silver?

The Shift 1.0 was made with a brass base and plated with precious metals. Unfortunately, we found that the precious metal would tarnish too quickly because of the interaction with the acidity from saliva and sweat from your body. We worked very hard to reproduce the piece in a different metal that could last much longer and provide a brilliant finish like the pieces made with precious metals.

We were finally able to create Shift 2.0 with high grade Stainless Steel (316) that provided the durability we needed for everyday use, while maintaining the elegant design of this breathing tool in disguise.

The breathing necklace no longer tarnishes in color because the vibrant precious metal color is baked into the entire piece, unlike our first version that was plated. We want the necklace to help our audience develop a habit of better breathing. To accomplish this, the breathing tool has to be available anywhere and everywhere, whenever you need it most, so you can calm anxiety early on. So we had to build the Shift to last, expecting it would be worn day in, day out.

Is the Shift made in the USA?

As a family owned business, we like to be very upfront about our business practices.

Our manufacturing process requires precision, expertise, and experience because the product is used orally. We launched Komuso three years ago with a domestic manufacturing vendor and quickly experienced issues with tarnishing and scratching. After an exhausting search to find a world-class manufacturer, we were finally approved to partner with the world’s leading stainless steel provider. While they are located in China, they work with many other prestigious jewelry brands around the world, and now provide us with a superior product that includes European tested materials and a proprietary creation process.

We also employ workers in the US for most other aspects of the business and proudly have kept paying our team through the COVID crisis.

We completely understand your potential concerns and respect any hesitation regarding non-US made products, but hope you’re willing to give us a shot. We’d love to introduce you to our life-changing product and would be happy to answer any other questions.

Do you offer a breathing tool for kids?

Our younger audience members have been on our minds for a long time now. The increase in anxiety among our younger generations is alarming. As parents, this cause is especially important to co-founders Todd and Vanessa.

We’ve been developing a special youth version of the necklace because so many parents and educators have been reaching out with similar questions.

We plan to release the Youth Shift early in 2021. If you’d prefer to have the tool sooner, we hear from many different customers who have purchased the Shift for adolescents that it has been an effective breathing tool for many ages.

Why are different colors different prices?

We manufacture our breathing tool using a proprietary method of baking the precious metals into high grade stainless steel to achieve the desired color. We use this process so the color never loses its luster.

The reason for the price variance is that the gold color takes more machining to produce such a vibrant color. We want to make sure it matches real gold or silver. The matte slate piece is the cheapest because it doesn’t require a high polish, so it’s easier to make.

Why is the Shift so expensive?

That’s a fair question. The price of the product is based on a few different variables.

The first is that we use a high quality grade of 316 stainless steel that bakes the precious metal colors all the way through the piece through a proprietary process. This is important because the color in most jewelry wears down, or the plating chips or cracks. That won’t happen with the Shift. Our breathing tool is durable, elegant, and functional, designed and tested to help you breathe better for years to come.

Next, we use recycled metals, which increases costs. But as we help our audience breathe better, we also want to help our planet, and most especially our forests, breathe better too. So we continue to refine and streamline our methods with the utmost respect for the planet.

We want our customers to feel a long term connection with the necklace. This isn’t a trend or a fad for us. It’s not something we imagine our customers wearing occasionally. The Shift is an investment into breathing better, into reaching your potential, into a more vibrant life and a better you. To make customers feel more comfortable, we offer a risk-free trial for 30 days so you can return it if you feel the price doesn't match the experience(available in the US; to international buyers – please check the terms and conditions).

Why do the products have a gender?

Our challenge is that we have so many questions from men who only think the necklace is for women, meaning these prospective customers would simply pass us by thinking that the necklace wasn't designed for them. Although we are striving for a more inclusive brand that represents our shared view of gendering, we also don’t want to hold everyone to the same evolved standard for gendering.

That being said, we're ideating internally about how to provide a better example, and ultimately make the adjustment to publish the product as unisex, because we think it's important and want to be leading the way.

We know that doesn't solve the issue, but hope it sheds some light on our position and our path forward.

Can this breathing tool help me quit smoking?

We honestly didn't design the tool with the intention of helping people quit smoking, but have been surprised by how many customers have successfully used it to quit.

They tell us they’ve learned that their "smoking break" is really more like a "breathing break." Our breathing tool has provided them with an excuse to go outside, hold something physical to satisfy that part of the habit, and take pause during their day and busy schedules while breathing. Simply put, the Shift checks nearly all of the boxes that accompany the smoking habit, without the negative side effects.

There’s some science to back this up too: longer exhales send signals to your nervous system to calm down, regardless of whether you’re using a cigarette or our breathing tool. The Shift helps our audience achieve longer exhales and a greater sense of calm naturally, in turn shifting the habit from smoking to naturally breathing better.

Here's some reviews from verified customers who have used the Shift to quit smoking:


Elizabeth Maki (Edmonton, Canada)

“I've had this for a week. I've been using it with focus and attention for three days, and haven't had a cigarette in those three days (I'm a long-time half-pack-a-day smoker). Love the way it looks, and it's such a useful tool for when you're trying to drop into a moment of mindfulness in the middle of a busy day. I fully intend to make continued good use of this necklace. Thanks Komuso!”


Devin Sanders (Lake Charles, US)

“I use it multiple times a day and it helped me stop smoking bc of the hand to mouth motion for using it. I even use it when I’m not anxious bc it helps me be entertained fore i have nervous habits”

We also offer a free (available in the US; to international buyers – please check the terms and conditions), 30-day trial so you can test it out risk-free.

Note: the Shift does not contain nicotine. It is a breathing tool designed to slow your exhale and increase your sense of calm naturally.

Can I return this? It's not working

Please contact customer service about returns within 30 days of purchase.

However, we’ve had a high percentage of customers we’ve been able to help as it relates to using the product better, which can completely change your perception of the necklace, and how effective our breathing tool can be.

If you’re open to giving it another shot, you can read through some details below on how to get the most out of the breathing necklace, because it really does work if you can use it to make a habit of breathing better.

Reading through some of our verified reviews may help too.

Here’s a more detailed step by step guide:

- Step 1: When you feel anxiety or stress coming on, simply be mindful of it. See it and know that it doesn’t necessarily have to be a part of you. It’s just a thought and thoughts aren’t facts.

- Step 2: Inhale deeply (3-4 seconds) through your nose with your mouth closed. Focus your thoughts on your breath, and nothing else. Let your inhale completely fill your belly with air. Try not to raise your shoulders during this breath. It’s all about the belly.

- Step 3: Pause for 1 second after you inhale.

- Step 4: Exhale through the Shift. This is the step most people get wrong. We instinctively want to push the air or blow through the piece, but you just need to let your exhale flow. Relax your jaw around the Shift and relax your shoulders. Feel your muscles unclench. Allow the exhale to fully release the air in your belly. You’re literally expelling toxins that triggered your parasympathetic nervous system to kick in and send signals to your mind to be calm. It takes a few tries to get adjusted to the exhale too.

- Step 5: Repeat the sequence at least 5 times. Each time you breathe, think about your body and what you’re feeling as you breathe. That becomes your only truth.

It takes some practice to find the right quality of breath, but it really works once you start to get the hang of it.

Here’s a new video that includes a brief explanation of how to use it which might help:

Why is there an edge on the tube? And should I use it?

The piece was designed with the cut edge as a tribute to the Komuso Monks of 17th century Japan who used a similar tool to meditate. The edge doesn’t have a functional purpose, it’s more of a design feature. We encourage you to use the piece in whichever way feels the most comfortable.

What does the Japanese lettering on the Shift mean?

The engraving on the back of the piece is Japanese kanji for “Be Still.”

The Shift was inspired by the Komuso Monks of 17th century Japan who used a similar tool called a shakuhachi to meditate. We wanted to inherit their wisdom and adapt the tool to modern culture to help people slow down and achieve a greater stillness and peace of mind naturally.

What's the difference between men’s and women’s?

The only difference between the men’s and women’s breathing necklace is the chain. The men’s chain is a little shorter (25”) and thicker than the women’s chain (29”).

The pendant is exactly the same. We list them by gender because men generally prefer the shorter, thicker chain, but it is interchangeable depending on your style and preference.

Check out both chains at our shop.

Does the Shift make noise?

The necklace was designed to be used discreetly so you have the ability to use the tool at work, school, or around other people. While the piece may resemble a whistle, the only sound emitted during use is an amplified version of your exhale, which was intentionally designed to help train your mind to redirect your thoughts back to your body.

Since your mind can only focus on one thing at a time, we want you to be focused on the present moment, which is easier said than done. When you're listening to the sound of yourself breathing, we find it’s easier to think about breathing, which increases the quality of your breath, keeps you from focusing on anxious thoughts, and ultimately lowers your anxiety.

Are you a wellness professional? Let’s chat

Are you a wellness or mental health professional interested in the power of the breath? Are you helping people achieve true wellness through better breathing?

We would love to hear from you.

We work with mental health professionals and wellness enthusiasts across the country who recommend the Shift to their clients. We love this relationship because we believe the power of breathwork education can really enhance the experience of the necklace. You also have access to clients or customers who could really benefit from the necklace.

We’re happy to invite you to join our community of wellness leaders within Komuso:

Stay Tuned: We’re looking for Breathing Ambassadors

We are currently building out a Beta breathing program to help reach more people who could benefit from better breathing. We’ll need your help, and are looking to identify a handful of breathing ambassadors to help us launch our campaign. Stay tuned, we’ll reach out in Q1 of 2021 with a call for submissions.

Got more questions?