You can manage the urge to sleep with the practice of breath awareness.
1. Sit comfortably erect. Use a chair or a wall to support your spine if helpful.
2. Close your eyes and begin to follow the movements of your breathing. Stay with the breath for a few minutes, until your focus is steady.
3. Without losing your breath awareness, relax your body just as if you were settling it into bed.
4. Continue to follow your breath, maintaining your breath awareness as if it is virtually the only thing of importance in the universe.
5. Relax your mental effort. Maintain a steady hold on your breath, yet relax your body and mind.
6. Now begin to silently recite the mantra so-hum. Let that sound flow with each breath—so on the inhalation and hum on the exhalation. Sense that these sounds are gently blowing away layers of ashes that cover the embers of consciousness in you.
7. Continue for as long as you like. The urge to sleep may come and go, but do not let it dislodge your relaxed breath awareness. Gradually, as you become more rested, your sleepiness will diminish or even disappear. Over a number of sessions you can lengthen the time you sit.
ABOUT Rolf Sovik President and Spiritual Director of the Himalayan Institute and a clinical psychologist in private practice, Rolf Sovik has studied yoga in the United States, India, and Nepal. He holds degrees in philosophy, music, Eastern studies, and clinical psychology. Former Co-Director of the Himalayan Institute of Buffalo, NY he began his practice of yoga in 1972, and was initiated as a pandit in the Himalayan tradition in 1987. He is the author of Moving Inward, co-author of the award-winning Yoga: Mastering the Basics, and a contributor to Yoga International.