James Nestor’s story begins with him struggling with a respiratory issue and failing mental health, and his doctor prescribing him a visit to a breathing workshop. Despite Nestor’s initial scepticism – sparked by his co-breathers’ dodgy bindis and “woolly eyebrows” – he has a transcendent experience, which sparks something of a long exhale: a 10-year personal quest to work out what the hell happened in that session and why.
At some point that quest formalised into a book project, in which Nestor, a journalist who has written for the New York Times, Outside Magazine and NPR, covers breathing in all its ins and outs, something the rest of us clever souls are doing every minute of the day without needing to think about it.
Turns out we’ve forgotten how to breathe. Or maybe that should be why.
Nestor knows how to construct a story, turning what could easily have been a bland exercise in nasal gazing into a genuinely enlightening journey, one of shrunken mouths, Himalyan hermits and newly flexible chemoreceptors. We follow him into the catacombs beneath Paris hunting the skulls of humans who hadn’t yet become the ‘worst breathers in the animal kingdom’. Soon he’s learning first-hand what happens if you plug your nose with silicon for a fortnight and breathe exclusively through the mouth. Hint: It’s really rough.
Nestor also leaves you with tons of practical takeaways, whether you’re a runner who could do with a performance boost (breathe through your nose), or a chronic snorer seeking to pull themselves from the depths of sleep apnoea (breathe through your nose).
TL:DR – just breathe through your nose, it’s way better for you.
I figure if there’s ever a time you can justifiably call breathing a hobby, it’s now, given we’re all in lockdown and forced to rediscover the joy of the things we have close at hand. I can now hold my breath for more than three minutes. That’s up from about 30 seconds when I thought I had much better things to do.
Wine lover and learner Lucy Howdle explores the phenomenon and possibilities of lockdown lushery, and the craftsmen and aficionados who are pivoting to provide…
What does it take to change social attitudes to race and end systemic discrimination? It’s a question that took centre stage in 2020. Can black storytelling help build the understanding that true change needs?
Belonging is a powerful feeling. Not belonging, arguably even more so. Award-winning playwright Gareth Farr takes us on a journey from kicking gravel on a pavement curb to the Bruntwood Prize and beyond…
Feeling overwhelmed by an endless domino effect of doom? Delete your news apps, turn off the radio and indulge in a delightful dose of 'half-full' invigoration served up by the brilliant Positive News. We talk to Pauline Milligan about big ripples, Twitter rabbit holes and the importance of hope...
This time last year, writer and former Stranger Collective intern Sravya Raju took a dive into the world of foraging. Here she relives her wandering and wondering through foraging’s offerings, lost lexicon, benefits and resurgence at a time where connecting with the natural world could bring us all a little more hope…
With his bold colours, clean lines and an added drop of wit, it's hardly surprising Valencia based illustrator and this issue's cover artist Sergio Membrillas is in demand...
What helps you create? Whether it’s writing, drawing, shooting or even whittling, for so many of us, music makes the world go round. In fact, we couldn’t imagine working without it. Fascinated by how other creative souls get stuff done, we decided to unpick this causal connection by speaking to different creators about their practice, process and how music fuels their fire.
It's cold outside and we could all do with a rousing beat to dance off the lockdown blues. So turn up the volume and savour a hip-swaying blast of African and Latino heat to warm your soul, in our playlist lovingly selected by Clare Tavernor – documentary filmmaker and director of two landmark BBC Four series exploring the music of Africa and Latin America.
A new social network shining with creativity, honesty, ideas and culture recs to connect kindred spirits worldwide...with zero advertising, fake news or political bullsh*t. What's not to love?
A few years ago, we commandeered a steam train, filled it with bright sparks, plied them with gin and watched magic happen. Dreaming of the day when we can make more happenings happen and spurred on by the end of the darkest dry January on record, we enlisted Tarquin's Gin’s Rory Colborne to whet our whistle and spill some cocktail secrets, from getting your ice right to why Martinis are most definitely better stirred not shaken.