Fancy a flame and shadow cookie? Then head for There and Bake Again!

If you live in the Toronto area, then you may want to head over to this interesting bakery/studio and fix that craving you've been having lately.


Third eye of Sauron

YORKVILLE -- "You're not going to forget this," says Patricia Wong. The elvish-speaking yoga instructor stands at the front of a studio where portraits of instructionally posed Hobbits hang on the walls. The Lord of the Rings soundtrack starts, and class begins: four participants sit cross-legged, eyes closed, listening to the story of Middle-earth, a seven-minute meditation set to the sound of raging fires, clanging swords and snarling creatures.

The Creative Kingdom yoga studio and There and Bake Again bakery is a curious new Tolkien-flavoured spot at 92 Scollard St. The studio glows red, and a large screen behind Wong -- instructor, founder, baker (among other things) -- displays visuals inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy world.

Soon, the class is in the Shire doing the sun salutation pose. An image of Bilbo Baggins' house appears on the screen and a real-life flautist plays in the studio.

"It's pretty crazy," Wong admits. A longtime LOTRfanatic, she sees a natural connection between the Hobbits' quest through Middle-earth and the personal journey of a yoga class.

"Most people can't see the connection yet, but a lot of things go together," she says excitedly. A lot of things, indeed: last November, Wong started a cookie business that specializes in "the flame and shadow," a chocolate-and-pepper-flavoured cookie inspired by Gandalf's fight with the Balrog. Her business partner encouraged her to combine the cookie biz with yoga, and they opened the studio/bakery in August. "The whole point of yoga is to get in touch with oneself, which is exactly what Lord of the Rings does," Wong says.

She envisions Creative Kingdom evolving into an LOTR clubhouse, hosting Tolkien readings and movie marathons. And it's hard to doubt the market for such a venture: Creative Kingdom's reading-and-cookies opening party drew about 200 enthusiasts, some in Middle-earth couture.

Of course, it isn't all dwarves and wizards. During the week, Wong leads Kundalini (yoga combining exercise, breath control and meditation) and scenic yoga classes (think virtual travel while doing the downward dog). But Wong is most excited about Tolkien yoga, which happens every Thursday and costs $35 a class.

During the 80-minute sessions, Wong quotes from the story and uses props. Participants dodge Ringwraiths, hide from the Balrog and protect Frodo when he's down. Some could find it nerve-racking; more drama class than workout. When the posing is finished, class concludes with an excerpt from the books. NICOLE COHEN


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