During exhalation, the body removes carbon dioxide from the tissues, which is nothing more than the waste products of the cellular process that produces energy. If you hold your breath for too long, you’ll feel the burning sensation that means your lungs are demanding the release of the stale air they’re keeping. You might expect there to be a balance between inhalation and exhalation, but there is more to releasing breath than simply letting it go.
Experiment with slowing your breath rate. The average person takes 12 – 16 breaths per minute, when an ideal rate is 8 – 10. Like most things, there should be a focus on quality over quantity.
Try this: when you next exhale, instead of tightening your stomach muscles to force the air out, visualize your lungs as balloons that slowly deflate. Let the escaping breath take its time to leave your body. Don’t rush to suck air back into your lungs; pause for a moment to appreciate the silence of the cessation of breath sounds. You can exist without the constant back-and-forth of respiration for a little bit.
When your body’s ready, let it slowly pull fresh air in through your nose. Again, don’t rush — keep track of the oxygen flowing in as though it were a liquid, enriching the tissues by saturation. Learn to let each breath impart as much energy as it can before releasing it to take away the waste, and remember that your lungs do still receive a little bit of oxygen during exhalation. You’ll find that those moments of perfect stillness between breaths allows for some amazing sensations and thoughts.