WE do it every minute of every day without thinking but it seems many of us may be doing it wrong.

Most of us do too much of our breathing through our mouths, says breath coach and Radio 1 presenter Stuart Sandeman, which activates the 'fight or flight' stress response in the body.

Shock, grief or anger can also cause us to unconsciously hold our breath, says the 37-year-old, whose clients have included Scottish Olympic swimmer Michael Jamieson.

He says diplomats often match breathing patterns when they meet other world leaders to help them get off on the right foot.

The Edinburgh-born former Scottish judo champion was trained by 'Iceman' Wim Hoff, who set the Guinness World Record for farthest swim under ice, with a distance of 57.5 metres (188.6 ft).

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Breathe properly, Hof claims, and oxygen levels in the tissues increase and adrenaline floods the body. Adrenaline is for survival, but he says in this way it is completely controlled and resets it to the "best functionality."

Thankfully, his Scottish student has a tool-box of less daunting techniques for the rest of us which aim to boost energy or help calm the mind and release stress.

He says the brain’s stress response system can be ‘hacked’ by changing the breathing pattern and has helped everyone from professional athletes to those recovering from respiratory infections including Covid-19.

Breathpod founder Stuart Sandeman has worked with patients experiencing fatigue and breathlessness after Covid infections

His early morning live-stream practices on Instagram earned him a new legion of followers during lockdown, landing him a Radio 1 show.

After graduating in maths and geography, the 37-year-old worked in finance, negotiating transactions up to $10 million for the US and Asian markets.

He left his high-pressured job to follow a passion for music and after securing a number of record deals, toured the world as an international DJ. This all came to an abrupt halt when his girlfriend was diagnosed with terminal cancer, the first time he says he experienced real stress.

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"Even when we were going through cancer, I've always been an 'ever the optimist type' - will sort this, we will fix this," he says. "That judo player built in from a young age, fighting through something. I think it was that part of me that crumbled when I was grieving."

After his girlfriend passed away, he moved back home to Edinburgh to be close to his family and says a Mother's Day gift led to a life-changing experience.

"I took my mother to a breathing workshop, she's really into yoga- and had a really peculiar, amazing, extreme experience and I thought wow, something special had just happened but I wasn't sure just what.

"Breathing in this different way had the ability to make me help me feel for the first time in a long time."

Breathpod founder Stuart Sandeman has worked with patients experiencing fatigue and breathlessness after Covid infections

He says many people come to him for help with sleeping problems, while he has also helped with conditions including asthma, hayfever and sleep apnoea.

"Every rhythm and rate is going to trigger a different response, physically and mentally.

"And then there is this deeper form of breathing, which works in a therapeutic way. .

"We might hold our breath, in anger or holding back tears when it's not appropriate to cry. Our breath is used as a control mechanism when it comes to emotion and I was certainly holding my breath through grief. 

"A big part of my practice is working with people to support them through that release.

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"And that could be PTSD, or stress or burnout or it might just be patterns of behaviour that we have learnt from a young age.

"We work to reconfigure the brain, breath connection. It's the brain that triggers the breath and the breath that triggers us to feel a certain way."

Now, permanently based in London, he spent some time training with Dutch endurance athlete Wim Hof, known as the Ice Man, who advocates a controlled breathing technique that is also found in yogic teachings called Rechaka Pranayama.

Breathpod founder Stuart Sandeman has worked with patients experiencing fatigue and breathlessness after Covid infections

It involves taking 30 deep breaths faster than a normal pace, then holding the breath for as long as you can do so comfortably before exhaling.

"It is quite extreme, you are holding your breath which also creates stress but research has shown the benefits of using that at particular times for helping boost immunity.

"What happens with infection or virus, it sets off what we call cytokenes, which fight off infections but are also what makes us feel sick. There are some ways of breathing that have been proven to dampen that response but because we are creating a stress response at the same time our white blood count shoots up and one of the cytokenes - interleukin 10 - dampens the response of the others.

"So we fighting off the infection but don't experience the symptoms."

He said the pandemic had led to growing interest in breathwork techniques because of the impact of the virus on the lungs. He uses similar techniques to help those recovering than he would with someone trying to get a marathon PB.

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"A lot of people have come to me with Long Covid symptoms, this feeling of breathlessness and exhaustion, real fatigue and a tightness in the chest. It's all about building up your respiratory strength."

He has a go-to breath technique which he says has "saved my bacon many times".

"You breathe in for four then hold for four to allow carbon dioxide to increase which triggers the nervous system to move into the parasympathetic state - the off switch of stress - and then breathe out for a count of eight which allows everything to relax.

"What happens is we start to feel calm and alert at the same time, which is a good place to be." 

Stuart Sandeman's Radio 1 Decompression Sessions are available on BBC Sounds. Follow him on Instagram at Breathpod.