If you've been browsing the Mindful Balance Retreats site for any length of time, you may have noticed our logo. We love nature, but these unfurling ferns, known as koru, are more than just pretty plants. With this image, we've set an intention for what we want your experience to be with us.

Where do they come from, and what do they mean? Let's take a dive into the history and meaning behind this image. 

Origins of the koru

The Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand, are responsible for bringing this powerful symbol to the fore. In New Zealand, the silver fern is an ever-present fixture in the natural landscape. The Maori, who arrived in New Zealand over 1000 years ago incorporated the fern into many forms of artistic expression. The spiral of the koru is commonly seen today on tattoos and jewelry. 

The word "koru" is Maori for "loop," and it's pretty easy to see why. 

 Photo Credit:  Endro Lewa

Photo Credit: Endro Lewa

 Photo Credit:  Anton Kufer

Photo Credit: Anton Kufer

The meaning behind the image

The koru has a variety of positive symbolic meanings. The tightly-wound spiral represents new life and growth. Since the spiral loosens over time to allow smaller fronds to emerge, the koru is often seen as an image of the power of surrender. 

This unwinding is also symbolic of our own journey through life. The large loop could be the core of who we are, while the smaller fronds represent the many hats we wear as we grow. One koru meaning referenced repeatedly is the idea that everything changes, but it remains the same. For anyone trying to develop a sense of equanimity and acceptance in their yoga practice, such a sentiment should ring true. 

The interconnectedness that the koru represents can also be taken as a metaphor for family. Some people give assign human characteristics to the fern. They view each frond as another part of their lineage that connects back to the heart of the plant. 

Why it matters to us

In so many ways, the koru is a reminder of what we try to achieve in our practice. This plant unwinds to become the fully realized version of itself. We go through the physical process of unwinding on our mats, but we must also learn about surrender in our day to day lives. The spiral is the balance between sthira (steadiness or strength) and sukha (ease) that we work toward throughout our lives. 

 Photo Credit: Endro Lewa

Photo Credit: Endro Lewa

The Koru reminds us of the importance of connecting with nature. It is a visual manifestation of our place in the universe. Just like the fern is ubiquitous and has been for thousands of years, so too we are infinite and ever-present. What we are capable of stretches far beyond the bounds of the physical body. Through consistent practice, each of us explores what this means for us. It could be in the form of deep meditation, or perhaps through the practice of service to others

Perhaps most importantly in the context of yoga retreats, this humble plant reminds us that we can turn over a new leaf. A retreat is the perfect place to recenter, forge new bonds, solidify healthy habits, and take stock of who you are and where you're going. From this space of deep reflection, you may be able to commit to yourself in a way you couldn't before. If you're struggling to find your way, the koru could serve as a reminder that the fully-realized version of yourself already exists-- it's just waiting to be revealed. 

Are you ready for a new beginning? Stay tuned for details about our upcoming New Zealand retreat.