Sirsasana with dowels
This variations I like to use when a student is not safe putting her/his head down on the floor. The reason can be a hernia, scoliosis or any muscular asymmetry. Make sure to put the dowels on a blanket to protect your mat. Somebody should hold the dowels. The student places the hands for headstand on the blanket touching the wall. The teacher or helper places the dowels as below. This will help lift and support the trapez muscles. Traction in the neck will occur. This is a quite safe variation.
Sirsasana holding block on upper back
This variation feels so good on a tired upper back. When I began introducing this variation to my students I was quite surprised how well it was received.
Headstand in ropes with knees bent to sides
I used to practice ashtanga vinyasa yoga on a daily basis and always jumped into caturanga dandasana. After 9 months daily self practice I found myself with neck pain. So I went to an osteopath in Munich, Germany. He found out my first vertebra, the atlas wasn’t aligned but had moved to the right. Then he told me that 90% of his patients coming with neck issues are yoga practitioners. I was shocked. This is when I got interested in individual alignment. I attended a training in Iyengar yoga in Munich that lasted 3-4 years. During this training I was fortunate to learn under very skillful teachers. It was Lois Steinberg who hung me into headstand in the ropes. She made me lift my head and look towards the wall and at the same time lift the trapez muscles up, away from my ears. This moved my cervical spine into its natural lordosis. At the same time she told me to move the elbows toward one another. Then she told me to drop my head, but still actively keep lifting the shoulders. Gravity had my neck go into a mild traction. After I returned back to Bodrum I got wall ropes in our studio. I hung in this pose daily ( see below). The result was amazing. When I got checked by the osteopath some time later he said the atlas had moved back.