yoga4There’s lots to love about your Week 1 (which starts with the first day of your period): It means the end of premenstrual grouchiness and–after plunging for a week straight–a rise in estrogen that sharpens your memory, boosts your energy and improves your mood the higher it climbs for about the next two weeks.

Unfortunately for many of us, Week 1 also means dealing with painful menstrual cramps.

If, like me, you like to turn to natural remedies for help, then you’ll love the results of two studies (this and this) show that doing yoga poses (either in a class or at home) significantly reduces the intensity and frequency of menstrual cramps.

How’s it work? The researchers credit the relaxation that occurs when you practice yoga–for instance, your heart rate goes down and your body stops churning out an overabundance of the stress hormone cortisol–which helps counter period pain.

Further research even suggests a certain type of meditative yoga–“Yoga Nidra”–has the power to balance out-of-whack reproductive hormones that can lead to menstrual-related problems, including severe cramps.

Want to try it for yourself? If you’re a yoga newbie, it’s wise to take at least one class with a certified yoga instructor to ensure you’re doing the poses correctly. And if you’re looking to refresh your yoga skills or simply want a glimpse into what you’d be doing at a class, check out the free videos at Yoga.com.