Period cramps or menstrual cramps are experienced by women regardless of their age, during or just before their menstrual cycle. Scientifically known as ‘dysmenorrhea’, period cramps are caused by an excess of prostaglandins that are released in the uterine lining as it prepares to be shed as a part of a woman’s reproductive cycle. Uterus contractions cause much of the pain felt during the menstrual cycle because the contractions stop the blood flow to the lining of the uterus. For many women, this causes throbbing pain in the lower abdomen. Some may also experience pain and discomfort in the back, inner thighs, legs and a host of other unpleasant symptoms such as bloating, headaches, nausea, etc. While many women are able to carry on with their regular tasks and duties during their period, the pain can be so severe for some women that bed rest and taking OTCs (over-the-counter pain relievers) and other remedies like using a hot water bag are the only way to cope. 
Studies have shown that exercise helps in relieving pain caused by menstrual cramps. This is because exercise stimulates blood circulation and releases endorphins in the body. However, during this time of the month, exercise may seem like the last activity one would want to do. Fortunately, yoga can be the perfect alternative to exercise while delivering the same, if not, better results. Here are some yoga asanas or poses that can help alleviate period cramps. 
To perform Balasana or child’s pose, begin by kneeling on the floor. Then slowly bend over your torso and rest it on your thighs. Stretch your arms out and lay your hands on the floor while bending your head down. Stay in this position for up to 30 seconds while taking deep breaths. This asana helps stretch the hips, back, and ankles which will help ease period cramps.
Sit on the floor with your legs straightened out and your back erect. Slowly bring your feet together and put them close to your pelvis with your hands securing them in place. Hold your feet down and then move your angled legs up and down, flapping them like the wings of a butterfly. Do this for about 30 seconds and repeat about five times with a 10-second break in between. This asana stretches the tension in your hip and pelvic muscles and promotes blood flow.
To perform this asana, lie down straight on your back. At shoulder height, spread both of your arms out with your palms open and facing the ceiling. Fold your legs at the knee, placing them near the hips. Bend your right knee towards the right side, rest it on the floor. Bend it to an extent that your left knee reaches the right toe and rest the left knee on the right side near the right knee on the floor. Now turn your neck to the left side. Repeat the same process on the other side. This spinal twist pose helps relieve lower back pain and it makes your spine flexible.
Lie flat on your back with your arms on your sides. Stretch your legs out straight and slowly move your hands away from your body with your palms facing upwards. Place your hands at about six inches away from your body. Relax your feet and close your eyes. Relax the muscles in your face, arms, legs, abdomen, buttocks and begin to take deep breaths through the nose. Imagine as though the breath is travelling to every cell in your body. Slowly exhale through the mouth. Do this for 5 minutes at a stretch, taking breaks in between. Repeat until the pain in your body subsides. This relaxing asana calms the mind and body while promotes blood circulation.
Practising yoga is an effective and natural way to help ease the pain caused by periods. While experiencing the pain and discomfort of menstrual cramps, it might be tempting to stay in bed or just pop a painkiller, but performing these asanas will prove to be more beneficial, not only treating the pain but also preventing it in the long run.