The concept of chakra originates in Hindu texts and features in tantric and yogic traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism. Its name derives from the Sanskrit word for "wheel" or "turning" (cakraṃ चक्रं [ˈtʃəkrə̃], pronounced [ˈtʃəkrə] in Hindi; Pali: cakka चक्क, Thai: จักระ, Telugu: చక్రo, Tamil: சக்கரம், Kannada: ಚಕ್ರ, Chinese: 轮, Tibetan: འཁོར་ལོ་; khorlo).
The chakras are believed to be a number of wheel-like vortices which, according to traditional Indian medicine, exist in the surface of the subtle body of living beings. The chakras are said to be "force centers" or whorls of energy permeating, from a point on the physical body, the layers of the subtle bodies in an ever-increasing fan-shaped formation. Rotating vortices of subtle matter, they are considered focal points for the reception and transmission of energies. Different belief systems posit a varying number of chakras; the best-known system in the West has seven chakras.