When it comes to controlling your breath, there are a lot of different ways. But one of the key aspects is being able to control your mind, to then help you control your breath. And with this concept, married duo Todd and Vanessa Steinberg created an organic “jewelry with a purpose” item called The Shift, under their Komuso Design company.
The Shift uses no technology, no prescriptions and no noise. It is basically just modern science and ancient wisdom rolled into a smart accessory to make you better. The Shift is engineered to relax the body and the mind through controlled breath. Slowing breathing signals the parasympathetic nervous system to slow heart rate, reduce cortisol, release toxins and promote the feeling of calm.
And the item has been a hit worldwide – duh!
Whether you are into yoga, meditation, or just trying to deal with anxiety, Todd and Vanessa have found a way to do it very smoothly. Asana Journal spoke with the founders to find out more and about their own love of yoga too!
1. How were you first introduced to yoga and what were your original thoughts?
Vanessa and I were both introduced to Yoga because we were stressed out and looking for organic solutions to unwind our minds. I’m about as flexible as a pencil so I admittedly didn’t have the best attitude going in. After our first session, I remember having a really enlightened conversation about life. I quickly realized that my yoga experience was more about my mind than it was about the body yet it benefited both simultaneously. Afterwards, I felt like my body just had all of its tires rotated, wheels aligned, and transmission tuned up. Vanessa was addicted immediately as she was able to make a deeper spiritual connection. Like anything else in this crazy world, everyone is going to experience yoga differently and that’s a beautiful thing.
2. Why is both meditation and yoga such an important part of your weekly schedule?
We learned to make meditation and yoga more about common sense than anything else. It’s common sense to eat breakfast right? Because if you don’t, you get hungry, irritable, or lethargic. The same logic applies with our commitment to yoga and meditation. If we don’t take the time to slow things down at least once per day, it catches up with us. When you implement this practice into your schedule it almost feels like a mini-vacation during your day because you’re giving your mind and body a break to just “be.” It also doesn’t hurt that you’re burning some serious fat too!
3. Why “Hot Yoga”? What benefits from this form do you see helping you?
The benefits of hot yoga are real and immediate. Seconds into each session, we’re grateful that our bodies are even able to launch into these wild positions and withstand the relentless heat. Then as if we didn’t realize it, our minds are escorted away from whatever was weighing us down and into our bodies where we’re hitting that reset button. Life just feels different after every session because you realize perspective is everything and you shouldn’t trust your perspective when you’re dealing with stress. Our minds have a habit of lying to us which is dangerous if you aren’t able to hit that reset button.
As we got further into the practice, we noticed our bodies being restyled into a firmer shape which allowed us to feel more confident. Man it feels nice when your pants or shirt fits well right? That seemingly silly feeling of gratitude and confidence is actually momentum for us to eat better and treat our bodies with more respect. It’s a domino effect too because when we’re lazy for random periods of time, we see ourselves drift into a negative space. Consistency, consistency, consistency!
4. What is the biggest misperception about yoga and meditation you find, now that you are both active participants?
People tend to attach a ‘hippy magic’ stigma to yoga + meditation, which doesn’t surprise us. It’s not easy to appreciate what you don’t know. The good news to us is that the same judgement was cast upon similar trailblazers of any wellness movement of the past. Jogging was considered to be loony because it seems irrational to intentionally endure discomfort. Then it became a trend because the science was undeniable and more people realized it could benefit them. The same can be said about veganism which we’re also excited about. We love being at the forefront of a transformational swell within our lifetime. If you’re not onboard yet, we hope you’ll give it shot.
5. Your organic jewelry tool, The Shift, was inspired by Japanese monks… Please explain more on how you both came up with this unique idea to help people with their breathing routines?
While casually shopping at a local art walk in our neighborhood, we noticed an older gentleman selling these old looking flutes. He explained the history of the Komuso monks of 17th century Japan who used the flute to meditate. They used a simple tool to bring their mind back to their body through breath. The legend of these monks especially resonated with us because we were reminded of a little known calming hack using a straw to breathe. The science of slowing your exhale to simulate relaxation is well documented in that the parasympathetic nervous system is triggered to lower your heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol. It’s all pretty fascinating and under-appreciated stuff!
We fell in love with the notion that we can bridge the science of breath and ancient wisdom to provide people with an old school tool that really works to relax you. No tech, no prescription, and no distractions; we just want people to slow things down and get some separation with their thoughts.
6. How often do you use your tool within your weekly routine?
The Shift has two primary functions for us; the preventative breath and the rescue breath. Instead of reaching for my phone when I wake up in the morning, I grab our tool (The Shift) and start my day with some slow and conscious breaths. These breaths ‘prevent’ a fragile state of mind and prepare our bodies to better handle stress. Why would you want to immediately launch your mind into 46 notifications, emails, and alerts? That kind of frantic pace sets the tone for the day and you carry that energy with you. We want to roll back the clock and bring people back to a time when things were more simple and we weren’t attached to pings, dings, and rings.
The rescue breath is used when anxiety strikes and our mind/body enters ‘fight or flight’ mode which is where bad decisions live. When anxiety or stress flare up we simply use The Shift for a couple minutes to guide us back to calm. It’s always conveniently located right around our neck.
7. How important is an active, healthy lifestyle to you both overall?
A healthy and active lifestyle is honestly essential to our marriage. We both get a little edgy when we don’t feel healthy which then effects our relationship because we’re carrying around all of that stress. We believe that your body and mind need to be exfoliated through exercise and stillness. There are real consequences to drifting into a sedentary lifestyle which is not coincidental that heart disease is the leading cause of death in our country. Our minds go too fast and bodies go too slow. We need to find more balance.
8. Where is your favorite places to meditate around the world?
Hands down, our favorite place to meditate is Big Sur, CA. There’s something indescribable happening with the sounds of the redwoods swaying that plays in concert with waves crashing beyond the cliffs. We find ourselves not speaking much to each other when we’re in those special nooks of nature. There’s a sensation that washes over us that feels like we’re above the clouds. It’s amazing how much the noise in our heads starts to dissipate when we’re at peace. Nature takes control and we surrender to it.
9. Do you feel that participating in yoga and meditation alongside your product has helped your careers as entrepreneurs and yourselves as individuals?
We designed The Shift specifically to help us be more consistent with meditation. We weren’t having much success with the meditation apps because we were tethered to our phones which we didn’t like. Our theory is that we shouldn’t depend on tech to meditate or just feel calm. We knew we needed something physical like training wheels on a bicycle to make meditation more practical and consistent.
We laugh about the countless moments we’ve experienced where The Shift has elevated our lives. As entrepreneurs, we deal with a ton of pressure because we have to wear so many hats. The laughter is a result of being grateful that we didn’t develop a product like socks because genuinely need our product and use it to make us better.
10. What advice would you like to share with other practitioners based on your personal experience or others looking at getting into the same things you do?
Our advice is always to keep it light and simple. Whenever we find ourselves trying to start something new, we look for a simple first step and make that our mission because it gives you positive momentum to do more. When you compile all of those little steps, you find yourself flirting with the calcification of a great habit. The same theory applies to how breathing can help control your state of mind. It’s simple and effective which could snowball into legitimate wellness routine.
11. What are your future dreams and goals both professionally and personally?
Our future dream for the business is that we unleash a wave of enlightenment through breathwork. I think about how stressed out I was as a kid and wish I had access to the simple tools I’ve recently discovered. Your breath can change your life, full stop. We want people to put their phones down and keep their heads up because they’re dialed into the present moment. What if that first step is simply wearing a tool around your neck that makes calm attainable whenever you need it? We’re all in.
Personally, I just want to be a great dad, loving husband, and influence anyone’s life for the better. I like to keep it simple. Vanessa, of course, has passionate aspirations to change the world so I’ve hitched my wagon to her star and will kick back to enjoy the ride.
12. What other forms of yoga do you hope to learn and get into in the future?
We’re so curious about all different kinds of yoga although it gets intimidating to feel like you need to keep expanding your horizons with the practice. We’ve always wanted to try AcroYoga because it looks like so much fun but we’re not the most coordinated people so that might just need to stay a dream for now.
13. If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
If we could change one thing in this world it would be mass enlightenment. If everyone evolved faster, we would realize that we’re all interconnected. We wouldn’t hurt the environment, fight wars, or fight each other. We would all just kind of get it; being kind, compassionate, and easy going. Imagine that.