WHILE rock star Alanis Morissette was soaring to the top of the charts with her first multimillion-selling record, her twin brother felt his life was going nowhere.
"My sister had just broke out into the world with her Jagged Little Pill album. I was working in a health-food store in Vancouver and just feeling very lost," says Wade Morissette, 36. "When you're young and you have no direction, it's very disconcerting."
So he took off to India, a place that intrigued him with its mysterious spirituality.
Fast-forward a decade-and-a-half and Morissette has found his calling.
His sister Alanis is known for her fiery songs that portray heartbreak, bitterness and sexual escapades in movie theatres. Meanwhile, the older (by 12 minutes) Morissette twin is considered the calmer of the pair — the one who helps people find inner peace through yoga.
In doing so, he's also found his own peace.
The yoga teacher, yoga author and singer — well-known in New Age circles — will be in Winnipeg on Friday, Oct. 22 and Saturday, Oct. 23. He will lead three yoga workshops at Moksha Yoga's Donald Street studio. It's part of his North American tour.
Morissette was last in Winnipeg in 2006. Like last time, he'll offer a mix of traditional vinyasa yoga combined with his own singing and guitar playing.
But the highlight of the weekend happens Saturday night during his kirtan and dance class.
Kirtan is his passion. It's a type of meditative exercise from India that combines chanting with live music in a call-and-response format. During the class, Morissette will play acoustic guitar and sing chants in the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit. The chants, explains Morissette, are prayers to Hindu deities.
Kirtan classes can induce both tears and laughter, says Morissette. "There's so much emotive kind of energy happening through the song and through people singing and dancing. Crying is inevitable," he says. "Sometimes its sadness and despair. Other times it's just, 'I'm really glad to be here.'"
Morissette, along with his twin sister and older brother, grew up in Ottawa. Their parents — both teachers — listened to Bob Dylan and encouraged creativity.
At age 11, Morissette's now-famous sister, Alanis, joined the cast of kids' television show, You Can't Do That On Television. Her music career took off in Canada the early 1990s with two pop albums.
But she hit superstardom in 1995 with the release of Jagged Little Pill, her breakout album that featured the raunchy hit, You Oughta Know. The album has sold 40 million copies.
Alanis's next album was mellow — probably thanks to her brother's influence and his push for her to visit India. (Check out the lyric, "Thank you India" in the album's first single).
Wade Morissette had been to India a couple of times before. On his third visit, Alanis decided to tag along to see what had her brother so captivated. The pair met up in the southern part of the country.
"We hung out in Mysore for about a month and just drank coconut water and painted and went to yoga classes. There's never a boring day in India."
Wade Morissette — who has recorded four albums that feature Sanskrit chants — says people shouldn't assume that Alanis is the "angry" sibling.
"She can be as calm and zen as the guru on top of a mountain and I can be as pissed off as her any other day too," he says. "We kind of laugh sometimes when she's calm and I'm angry."
Though right now, Morissette says he is only content with his life. He lives with common-law partner, Quentin, a web co-ordinator at Simon Fraser University. The pair met a decade ago in one of his yoga classes.
They share two kids: Beck, 5 and Finnean, 2, who can be heard in the background trying to get their dad's attention during his phone interview with the Free Press.
He describes his home as an oasis. "I have the most beautiful view in the world," says Morissette, who can see the Pacific Ocean and the mountains from his window.
He says he has a lot to be happy about. He just finished writing a movie script (and soundtrack) loosely based on his own life. He plans to shoot it in India soon.
He looks forward becoming an uncle later this year when Alanis gives birth to her first child.
The Los Angeles-based star — who was once engaged to actor Ryan Reynolds — is expecting with her new husband, rapper Mario "Souleye" Treadway.
Morissette says he shares a mutual psychic bond with his sister. He recalls a time when he replied out loud to one of Alanis's thoughts. Their cousin witnessed the event and was spooked by the connection the twins had.
He says the bond between brother and sister has only grown stronger since he began studying yoga, an activity that synchronizes his mind and body.
He says he and his sister both knew when it was time for her to have a baby.
"Six months before she got pregnant, I was like, 'Oh my God, Alanis. You have to get pregnant.' She was like, 'OK, OK.'"
"It just hit me. It kept hitting me. I don't know if I can put it into words. It's something that just happens. I feel it in my body."
Wade Morisette will teach three workshops at Moksha Yoga on Donald St. The first is Dynamic Transformative Yoga, happening on Friday, Oct. 22 from 7 to 10 p.m. Five Keys to Unlocking Inner Bliss will happen Saturday, Oct. 23 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. (This class will take place in the studio's hot yoga studio). The kirtan session will take place on Saturday night from 7:30 to 10. Each workshop costs $30. Cost is $60 to attend all three. To register, call Moksha Yoga at 452-5535.
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