Take a deep breath and calm down is advice that has never helped me. I have been asthmatic since I was a toddler and my parents have expended a lot of their breath trying to get me to breathe right. From standing me at a window and supervising my breathing to enrolling me in gymnastics, yoga, ballet and more, they focused a lot of energy on strengthening my lungs, and I have had to continue it. In the past year and a half though, as covid-19 spread, breathing has been in focus in ways it never was before. Whether to calm pandemic-related anxiety and stress or strengthen the lungs, people have started noticing the way they breathe. Our cover story this week explains why breathing right is so vital. It goes into the science and philosophy of breathing and unpacks the research that has shown how conscious breathing can ease a host of maladies while boosting overall health and stamina, even for those living in polluted cities. Small changes to breathing can improve athletic performance and mental health. It’s about paying attention to a natural and involuntary action that keeps us moving every day.

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Another aspect we rarely pay attention to is the natural world around us, and to mark World Environment Day today, the stories on our Smart Living page look at the effect of the pandemic on conservation programmes around the country. From the Lakshadweep Islands, which are threatened by climate change, to forests on the mainland where animal-tracking projects are on hold, naturalists, researchers and outreach workers have not been able to go into the field. In many cases, they fear that they have lost ground that conservation had gained in the last few years. In an interview, the co-founder of Wildlife SOS, Kartick Satyanarayan, tells Lounge that human-wildlife conflict as well as poaching incidents have increased—but they haven’t been able to head out and gather data.

We also have a variety of stories—as always—on what to read, watch, do, eat to unwind and lounge this weekend.

Write to the Lounge editor [email protected] or on Twitter @shalinimb

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