For anyone who has ever started a non-profit or a company, determining the logo may be their first major forward-facing decision. An organization’s logo is a first impression, and is a visual stake in the ground for what people will associate with it, for better or for worse. If that feels dramatic, consider that psychologists and marketing experts contest that a logo may not only evoke emotion from a potential audience based on color, but also on shape and design. Turns out a picture truly is worth a thousand words, even if it’s not immediately clear what those words are.
When Ravi Singh and Judy Weaver were first conceptualizing Yoga Unify “we were compelled to envision an image or icon that best exemplified our mission,” says Ravi. Even in those early days, the mission of Yoga Unify was crystal clear: to serve to preserve the tradition and steward the forward evolution of yoga worldwide. Despite these ambitious goals, the organization wasn’t exactly a conceptual idea. “Yoga Unify really presented itself to myself and Judy, as a great idea whose time had come,” says Ravi.
The idea for the logo came to him soon after. “Two elephants with entwined trunks (suggesting unity and community, not to mention the nadi helix encircling the spine) cascaded into my mind fully formed, which was substantiation that we are being guided by something bigger than all of us,” says Ravi.
The idea that we’re being guided by something bigger is endemic to the lofty mission of this non-profit. The power of yoga’s teachings to truly change the world is real, and to preserve the tradition and steward the forward evolution of yoga is to ensure that more people have more access to explore this practice should they choose to. Preserving the tradition of the practice requires considering what it means to be a yoga professional, and to help identify and promote pathways of lifelong learning to all students. To steward the evolution of the practice requires that we take a good hard look at both the light and dark spots in our community, and provide structural service for all yogis to hold themselves and their teachers accountable.
All to say—when Ravi and Judy, soon to be joined with Heather Sheree Titus as co-founders—were ideating a logo, they were envisioning an organization that would not only bring yogis together in the spirit of mutual accountability and evolution, but one that potentially could change the world. “What an honor to be witness to the humble inception of a movement so potentially vast!” recounts Ravi now.
“The elephant of course references Ganesha, the remover of obstacles, as well as the four elephants that support the world in other mythologies. For me,” says Ravi, “the elephant also symbolizes solidity, wisdom, and a big heart.” Bringing together the symbolism of Ganesha is an obvious nod to the Hindu roots of yogic tradition, but the additional four elephants are a personification of the idea that while we may all be coming from varying backgrounds, we can absolutely come together and find common ground in the pursuit of the practice.
Yoga Unify co-founders turned to illustrator and graphic artist Terry Clarke to bring their ideas to life. “The elephants facing each other, trunks entwined in loving communion, speaks to solidarity and mutual reverence,” says Ravi. The stark color contrast speaks to the “union of polarities and the sacred thread that unites all yogic lineages,” he says.
Perhaps this is the crux of what makes our beloved elephants truly speak to the mission of Yoga Unify, and represent the organization on first impression to those who find it. “Those of us who are dedicated to furthering the Yoga Unify vision,” says Ravi, “are similarly entwined, grounded, and fierce in our commitment to take yoga to the next level for the greater welfare of all.”
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