The ideal of karma yoga is to be totally in the here and now, to do what is appropriate under a given set of circumstances, to the best of our ability. There is no expectation of any reward, gratitude or recognition, and we are not overly concerned with the outcome.
An invaluable part of ashram life is the practice of karma yoga, which is doing work with the attitude of service (seva) and with Awareness. It is an essential aspect of yoga but we tend to think that work has nothing to do with yoga and don't realise that it could be transformative.
On a mundane level, it is work around the ashram, such as gardening, cooking, housework, maintaining our buildings - whatever needs doing at a particular time. On a deeper level, karma yoga implies that we are fully engaged in doing the work in hand whilst simultaneously being in touch with our inner being.
Work is not regarded as a chore, but rather as a tool to increase sensitivity and Awareness. By working with Awareness we are focused on our actions in the present moment. We are able to observe, and then deal with, the inner patterns and insecurities that plague our minds. It also develops a conscious interaction with life situations, improving our concentration, steadfastness and intuition. As a result, the quality of our practice of meditation is enhanced and we are enabled to go deeper.
For further information see Swami Nishchalananda's booklet Karma yoga - the yoga of awareness in action, available from the Ashram Shop.