Seva is an act of compassion and care for others above oneself. The sacred Hindu text, the Bhagavad Gita, encourages selfless service as a way to develop spiritually; thus, it is closely linked to the concept of Karma yoga. Unlike other forms of yoga which may focus on performing asanas to transform the physical body, performing seva is said to transform the personality.
Seva may be performed by a person in any number of ways, but the term is often associated with the work done in ashrams. The residents of the ashram will perform selfless service in order to further the work of their guru and their community for the benefit of others. This can be considered a devotional practice because by serving others, you are serving God.
Performing seva may be a challenging task as it may raise personal difficulties for the people doing it. They may discover their own aversions to certain aspects of the work. However, through mindful awareness of these challenges, seva can be a powerful tool for people to learn more about themselves, their personalities and the patterns of behavior or thought that are no longer serving them. In this way, performing seva can be a form of personal and spiritual development.