An Introduction to Middle-earth™ Yoga
A bit about us
Founded in 2021 and based in Scotland, Middle-earth™ Yoga is an independent brand which brings together a love of yoga and an enduring fascination with the wonderful world of Tolkien.
It all began with Oscha Slings, Middle-earth™ Yoga’s sister company. Fiercely dedicated to providing an array of stunning baby-carrying slings, the design team soon found demand increasing for some of their initial Middle-earth™ designs. Despite these thematic prints originally being something of a side passion project for our designers, it transpired that there were many people out there who shared a love of Tolkien’s work and wanted products featuring designs that really embodied all the mystery and mythology of his world.
A few years on from the release of the Middle-earth™ baby sling collection, CEO and designer Zoe Masters began to think of a new way to bring the magic of Middle-earth to life and to a community which so far seems to have been left out of the geek-y designs market; yoga practitioners. As a yogini herself (and a fan of Tolkien), Zoe wanted to create something that wasn’t just beautiful but also ground-breaking in its functionality and production. And so began the tale of Middle-earth™ Yoga…
With 25 years of experience practicing yoga, we wanted to create a brand which reflected our reverence for daily practice. With a deep respect for the roots of the tradition and recognition that the spiritual experience of yoga can be enjoyed with or without a mat, all we aim for is to provide our fellow practitioners with the support they need.
After painstaking research which took over two years of trial and error, the development of our mats has resulted in a truly incredible product. Longer and wider than the industry standard, our mats feature hand-drawn designs, incredible grip, extra cushioning and calming colour schemes.
Having tested a number of prototype mats and researched our competition, we alighted upon this design of mat in particular as we found that even during hot yoga, our mats guaranteed that there was no slipping or sliding and no constant readjustment disrupting your asana flow.
We also considered those who practice yoga as a means of pain management and relief, which is why the extra layer of cushioning is an essential component of our mats. This helps to support users, decreasing the impact on joints and providing added comfort when practicing on hard surfaces.
We can’t say for certain but we’re pretty sure that JRR Tolkien would have been a big fan of yoga. He was well noted for having an intense connection to, and love of, the natural world. He also focussed much of his work on the beauty of living simply, overcoming obstacles and finding peace in the disordered chaos of the world. These are all elements which are inherent to the practice of yoga.
Aside from our secret belief that Tolkien would have enjoyed yoga as much as we do, we also wanted to celebrate our own enthrallment with Middle-earth. We’re thrilled to say that our yoga mats are the only officially licensed The Lord of the Rings™ & The Hobbit™ themed yoga mats currently available!
Drawing inspiration from the rich tales, our in-house team have created stunning thematic designs which faithfully capture the unique magic within Middle-earth. From the fine details of the mats themselves to our designers’ careful interpretation of the motifs in Tolkien’s world, the inception of Middle-earth™ Yoga has been a true labour of love.
We have also endeavoured to name our mats thoughtfully with each design and colourway reflecting a specific aspect of the Middle-earth tales; from Ithildin to Rhûn, Erumë to Mirrormere.
Our Eco-Friendly Ethos
True to our personal ethics and the memory of nature’s greatest enthusiast, JRR Tolkien, at Middle-earth™ Yoga we strive to be as green as possible and to not only leave no footprint, but to add to the bounty of nature. Our mats are therefore biodegradable, free of PVC and are non-toxic. We also continually review our process, suppliers and packaging to try and reduce our impact on the earth.
As well as this, a portion of our sales go to Trees for Life, an organisation who are reforesting the Scottish Highlands. Established in 1989, Trees for Life is doing amazing work replanting and restoring the ancient Caledonian forest. We are proud to be supporting this return to nature and the effect it will have on our landscape and atmosphere. It’s really important for us to be pro-actively involved in sustaining Scotland’s forests and encouraging new growth in barren areas. We love our environment – it’s beautiful and inspiring, and we want it to stay that way.
Trees of Life intends to re-establish areas, or ‘islands’, of healthy young forest scattered throughout the barren, deforested glens. As these new trees reach seed-bearing age they will form the nuclei for expanded natural regeneration in the surrounding area.
Tree of Gondor™ 'Tirith' Yoga Mat
The Design Concept
The story of the White Tree of Gondor is one of rebirth and growth. It is a symbol of the continuity of light in a world of darkness and its mythology is as complex as the myriad roots of a tree. Its natural essence, symbolic story, and the descriptions of its breathtaking beauty are all features which resonated with our designers and made it an obvious choice for our yoga mats.
Alongside the crown of Gondor and the seven stars representing the constellations of Middle-earth, the tree stands tall and straight. This positioning of the design will give users a perfect base with which to align themselves and following the intertwining branches of the design will help to focus the mind during meditation.
The Valar sang into being two trees to light their world; Telperion and Laurelin. Telperion was a tree of silver and Laurelin, a tree of gold. They were more bright and beautiful than the light of the Sun or the Moon and the Valar collected the light which dewed on their branches.
However, these trees were destroyed by order of Melkor and all that remained was a single fruit from each. The fruit of Telperion was used to make the Moon and the fruit of Laurelin was used to make the Sun.
As Telperion was especially loved, Yavanna of the Eldar created a tree in its likeness, called Galathilion. One of the many seedlings of Galathilion was Celeborn, a fruit of which (Nimloth) was taken to the island of Elenna and given as a gift to the Men of Númenor who lived there.
This tree, too, was destroyed in an attack by Sauron but Isildur managed to save a single fruit from the tree before it was cut down and, when the Downfall of Númenor came, sailed with the sapling to protect it, thus preserving the line of Galathilion. This journey is remembered by Gandalf in the verse:
“Tall ships and tall kings
Three times three,
What brought they from the foundered land
Over the flowing sea?
Seven stars and seven stones
And one white tree.”
As the line of Elendil began to fail with war and the corruption of Isildur, so too did the line of Galathilion begin to weaken. Eventually the third tree withered and died in Minas Tirith but was left standing in the hope that when the true King returned, the tree would bloom again.
When Sauron was defeated and Aragorn returned to rule Gondor, the tree remained withered and Aragorn feared it was a sign that the future of Gondor was still unsalvageable. Gandalf, however, told him to look to the wastelands of the North which had been overlooked as being barren and empty. There, Aragorn found a sapling of the White Tree:
“Then Aragorn turned [...] and saw that out of the very edge of the snow there sprang a sapling tree no more than three foot high. Already it had put forth young leaves long and shapely, dark above and silver beneath, and upon its slender crown it bore one small cluster of flowers whose white petals shone like the sunlit snow.
[...] And Gandalf coming looked at it, and said: 'Verily this is a sapling of the line of Nimloth the fair [...] Here it has lain, hidden on the mountain, even as the race of Elendil lay hidden in the wastes of the North. Yet the line of Nimloth is older far than your line, King Elessar.'
Then Aragorn laid his hand gently to the sapling, and lo! it seemed to hold only lightly to the earth, and it was removed without hurt; and Aragorn bore it back to the Citadel. Then the withered tree was uprooted, but with reverence; and they did not burn it, but laid it to rest in the silence of Rath Dínen. And Aragorn planted the new tree in the court by the fountain, and swiftly and gladly it began to grow; and when the month of June entered in it was laden with blossom.”
Misty Mountains™ 'Hithaeglir' Yoga Mat
The Design Concept
The Misty Mountains appear throughout Tolkien’s works; a perennial symbol of personal and physical obstacles on the journey to fulfilment and peace. They stand lost in swathes of snow and cloud and ice, seemingly impassable and yet in every tale, they are overcome, though not without sacrifice. The idea of the journey, the challenge and the euphoria in overcoming our own mountains, is something our design team felt strongly mirrored their own experiences of practicing yoga; the journey of self reflection, the challenge of remaining motivated to continue, the joy of seeing improvements in their abilities.
They were not only struck by the symbolic significance of the Misty Mountains, but also by the intense drama of the imagery Tolkien described, interwoven with the verses which shroud the mountains in magic and mystery:
"Far over the misty mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away ere break of day
To seek the pale enchanted gold.”
The Misty Mountains, also named the Hithaeglir in Sindarin, was a mountain range that ran 795 miles from the far north to the south between Eriador and the valley of the Anduin and Rhovanion. The peaks of the range were Caradhras, Celebdil, Fanuidhol, Mount Gundabad, and Methedras.
They were created when Melkor, a fallen member of the Valar, attempted to stop his evil beasts being defeated by Oromë, the huntsman. He made them so high, impenetrable and terrifying that Oromë could not pass through. Later, when the Eldar on their journey to Valinor looked upon the fearsome peaks, many became so afraid that they too were unable to pass and turned away. They later became known as the Nandor.
Although the Misty Mountains were home to many creatures and scenes in Tolkien’s mythical realm, perhaps best known and associated with them are the Dwarves. During the Years of the Trees it is said that the first of the Dwarves, Durin, awoke under the roots of Mount Gundabad and there created the greatest dwarven kingdom in Middle-Earth, ‘Khazad-dûm’:
“The world was young, the mountains green,
No stain yet on the Moon was seen,
No words were laid on stream or stone
When Durin woke and walked alone.
He named the nameless hills and dells;
He drank from yet untasted wells;
He stooped and looked in Mirrormere,
And saw a crown of stars appear,
As gems upon a silver thread,
Above the shadow of his head.
The world was fair, the mountains tall,
In Elder Days before the fall
Of mighty kings in Nargothrond
And Gondolin, who now beyond
The Western Seas have passed away:
The world was fair in Durin's Day.”
During the First and Second Ages of Middle-earth, the Dwarves flourished beneath the mountains, even surviving the invasion of Sauron by shutting themselves behind the Doors of Durin. But in the dark days of the Third Age, the kingdom of Durin fell to ruin when the Dwarves, overcome by greed for greater wealth, mined too far beneath the earth and disturbed a Balrog; a monster of darkness and fire. Since that day, the once mighty realm of Khazad-dûm was known as Moria (black chasm), deserted by the Dwarves and taken over by Goblins.
These Goblins were the very same that a company of thirteen Dwarves, a Wizard and a Hobbit were captured by almost a thousand years later, during the company’s quest to the Lonely Mountain.
It is also the tragic backdrop to the fall of Gandalf when the Fellowship of the Ring tried to cross the perilous Redhorn Pass and came across Durin’s Bane; the Balrog which had caused the Dwarves to flee so many years before.
Other notable inhabitants of this mountain range were Gollum, the Elves of Rivendell, the Stone-Giants and Saruman in his Tower of Orthanc.