WHY THE DANDELION?
In yoga, we talk about qualities of sukha (comfort, softness) and stira (transformation, strength). The softness and fragility of the Dandelion puff as it awaits its opportunity to spread its seeds represents sukha. The strength and resiliency of this ancient flower as it grow amidst rocks and dry soil represents stira.
The dandelion is a metaphor for the completed yoga class. Each individual departs from their experience on the mat to re-enter their life h aving changed in some way. I encourage them to plant the seeds of their own learning from the mat into their daily lives just as the scattered seeds of the Dandelion disperse and grow wherever they land.
I also chose the name Dandelion for the sake of discussion about labeling. As a former classroom teacher and now a mother of a differently-abled child, I am sensitive to labeling. Dandelions are labeled weeds. I get that. But they do have a beauty and purpose. The yellow of a Dandelion has a particularly vibrant, energetic brightness… like the sun. When going to seed, the delicate, gossamer parachutes invite you in to make a wish; sweet childhood memories.
People with Down Syndrome are also labeled countless things that I would rather leave unsaid. In the Down Syndrome community, we are careful to say, “A child with Down Syndrome,” as opposed to “A Down Syndrome child;” placing the beautiful person before the chromosomal glitch.
The Dandelion is also a living microcosm of nutrition. Often referred to as the perfect plant medicine, Dandelions help filter toxins from the bloodstream. They are a gentle diuretic to help cleanse the digestive system, balance liver problems and help control blood pressure. "Dandelions might be more nutritious than most of the vegetables in your garden. Dandelions have more vitamin A than spinach, more vitamin C than tomatoes, and are an extremely potent source of iron, calcium and potassium. Other edible uses of the Dandelion are infinite. You can enjoy a complete meal from the Dandelion. The roots can be dried and sold as a no-caffeine substitute for coffee. Dandelion greens can be used in salad, stir-fry, quiche and pesto. Smoothies, juices and even ice cream can be powered-up with the addition of Dandelion parts. Dandelion wine, and other items in the liquor aisle have become popular…and if you over-indulge, you can cleanse your liver with the detoxifying benefits of Dandelion root tincture." (Anita Sanchez, The Teeth of the Lion)
And your lawn? The roots aerate your lawn’s soil as they draw up deep nutrients that would otherwise be untapped; nutrients that end up fertilizing your grass.
Just like people with Down Syndrome, Dandelions will never be eradicated, but we can learn to be more at ease with them, learn to love them, and learn to embrace their benefits and values.