I thought this recent article on precautions during shoulder stand couldn't come at a more opportune time!
A new and experienced student to the centre recently asked why we take the time to set up a stage prior to entering shoulderstand. After the class he was surprised to see how the addition of a blanket under the shoulders created a totally different experience for him-it was the first time he felt as if he could breathe in the pose and his neck still retained it's natural curvature (that wonderful C curve) while in the full asana. In other words, he was steady and comfortable in the asana.
Although there are many benefits to shoulder stand, there are several precautions many students are never informed about-at a minimum students should be informed on what they should and most importantly not feel during this asana; how to enter and exit sequentially and with control. There always should be space between your neck and mat (you should be able to fit your hand between the mat and your neck)!!