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Yoga has officially taken over the world; it’s now a lifestyle, a fashion trend, even an inter-generational bonding opportunity. But the basic tenets of the practice remain the same: mindfulness and body awareness.

At its core is ethical treatment of the world we live in, and it’s a principle that finds resonance in eco-friendly yoga wear, biodegradable water bottles and other related accessories that do not eventually end up in a landfill.

Yet, we continue to use PVC yoga mats, simply because they’re cheap and convenient. PVC is non-biodegradable and is rife with toxins that pollute the environment. Besides, frequent contact with such a material can have harmful effects on long-term health. “Most synthetic yoga mats have toxins like lead, cadmium and other likely carcinogenic phthalates, which enter the human system through inhalation and skin contact,” says Dr Gayathri Devi, a dermatologist at Derma Med Spa, Chennai. A prolonged exposure via a yoga mat and other substances may compound and lead to endocrine disruption at the very least and cancer at its worst. She recommends mats made of natural materials, as they are not just earth-friendly but easy on the skin and our internal functioning too. Luckily, we have options.